At long last at the end of January, Hillel of San Diego is opening the $18.7 million Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center in La Jolla to serve students at the nearby University of California San Diego.
“It is so needed for our community and really, it is an investment in the future of Jewish life in San Diego,” said Karen Parry, executive director of Hillel San Diego.
“There were literally so many community stakeholders who never gave up over decades because of this belief that the Jewish community has a right to be here,” Parry said.
A UC San Diego graduate, Parry said “I remember being a student and being crammed into this small space on campus for Shabbat dinner and hearing, ‘Don’t worry, we have this land and we’re going to build this beautiful center.’”
It took 22 years of fighting off legal challenges and making design changes to accommodate the concerns of neighbors and develop a project that blends in seamlessly with the single-family home community that surrounds the 6,500-square-foot center at 9009 La Jolla Scenic Drive.
Completion of the Hillel Center is “an important testament to the Jewish community’s resilience and perseverance,” said David Michan, a past president of Hillel of San Diego and chairman of the building committee that oversaw the project.
Fitting in With Neighborhood
Designed by M.W. Steele Group, the center was built on a site of just under one acre and includes three separate buildings connected by a shared 700 square-foot courtyard. There’s also a small park with walking and bicycle paths that’s open to the public.
Michael Paluzo, managing principal of M.W. Steele Group, said that “the scale and character of the project were intentionally designed to blend with and complement the adjacent residential community.”
Also working on the project were Pacific Building Group, Hughes Marino and Helix Electric.
Original plans for the center called for a single structure but Paluzo said that the plans evolved in response to community concerns.
The largest of the three buildings is a two-story, 1,890-square-foot building that includes a commercial kitchen, a student lounge and offices. The structure has a dramatically sloping roof to give it a more residential than institutional look — and all three buildings have large facades to provide natural lighting inside.
A separate 1,890-square-foot one-story building includes a conference space, a kitchenette and open work areas.
The smallest of the three buildings is a 971-square-foot structure that includes a wisdom wall of 304 square feet where students can post inspirational messages.
Because of a rising number of hate crimes directed at the Jewish community, Parry said the center includes stepped-up security measures.
“Every Jewish organization has had to have very, very high levels of security because antisemitism is on the rise nationally, particularly on college campuses,” Parry said. “We’ve had to add additional security measures in the last couple of years to respond to that.”
Parry said that the hope is that the Hillel Center will be “part of the solution in building relationships and allies across other communities and we believe that this center will help decrease antisemitism on campus.”
The center is named for philanthropist Joseph “Birdie” Glickman, who died in May 2018 at the age of 103, and his wife, Beverly, who died in 2015.
The Glickmans contributed $5 million toward construction of the center.
As of mid-January, Hillel was within $300,00 of covering the full cost of the center.
A $500,000 challenge has been made by Joan and Irwin Jacobs to match any additional donations.
Other major donors included The Melvin Garb Foundation, Jerri-Ann and Gary Jacobs and family, Sandy and Arthur Levinson, Julie and Lowell Potiker, Elaine Galinson and Herb Solomon, Karen and Jeff Silberman, Andrew Viterbi, Phyllis and Dan Epstein, Lee and Frank Goldberg, Wayne and Naomi Harris, the Shekhter family, Carole and Jerry Turk, the Wax family, the Chortek Weisman family, Hanna and Mark Gleiberman, Amy and Adam Jacobs, David and Rashel Michan, Carols and Esther Michan, and Ernest and Evelyn Rady.
Until the opening of the new center, Hillel had been serving UC San Diego students from a 1,740-square-foot single-family home next to the new center.
Parry said that plans are to sell the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home once the move into the new center is completed.
Hillel of San Diego
Executive Director: Karen Parry
Headquarters: La Jolla
Business: Nonprofit service organization
Notable: Hillel San Diego serves the more than 2,000 students at the University of California San Diego, San Diego State University, the University of San Diego and California State University San Marcos.