The Melvin Garb Hillel Center at San Diego State University.
The Melvin Garb Hillel Center at San Diego State University.

Hillel of San Diego, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for college students to participate in a Jewish community, will dedicate a new student center at San Diego State University on Sunday.

The 10,500-square-foot Melvin Garb Hillel Center is the first modern Hillel facility on a college campus in San Diego.

The building, designed by MW Steele Group, features large meeting rooms, a coffee bar, a game area, outdoor space, and a banquet room for special events served by a full kosher kitchen.

The lead gift of $2.5 million for the center was donated by the Melvin Garb Foundation, which supports Jewish causes throughout San Diego County. The Garb Foundation along with 50 other individuals and foundations have contributed more than $7.4 million toward the $9 million campaign so far.

“This project is an important investment in the community,” said Stephen Cohen, president of the Garb Foundation. “It will ensure that Jewish students at SDSU will have a place to thrive and connect with their Jewish heritage for decades to come.”

“This is an exciting moment for the San Diego Jewish community,” said Herb Solomon, an SDSU alumnus and past president of Hillel who led the fundraising. “It is a testament to the strength of Hillel’s lay leadership, professional staff, students and the San Diego Jewish community that Hillel at SDSU has thrived during the past 30 years despite its inadequate facilities. The new center will provide a permanent space and a vital hub for Jewish students at SDSU — a place in which they can take enormous pride.”

Jackie Tolley, Hillel’s campus director at SDSU, had worked out of a converted residence for the past 36 years.

“It has been a long-held dream for many SDSU alumni and community leaders to build a new home for Hillel,” she said. “A modern facility has been our missing piece. It’s going to make an enormous difference in programming and activities for the students.”

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.