A rendering of the UC San Diego Hillel as seen from west-bound La Jolla Village Drive.

Hillel of San Diego broke ground on Sunday for a long-awaited center for Jewish students across La Jolla Village Drive from the UC San Diego Campus.

“After 20 long years and many challenges along the way, we are fortunate to celebrate a momentous groundbreaking milestone,” said Rep. Scott Peters, who was on the San Diego City Council when planning began. “The start of construction marks a bright and inclusive future ahead for what is now a vacant parcel of land.”

The Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center joins similar centers for Mormon, Lutheran and Catholic students located just outside the campus area. It will include three separate, one- and two-story buildings totaling 6,500 square feet and buffer the residential neighborhood from traffic noise on busy La Jolla Village Drive.

Google Earth image shows the location of the project. The home currently used by Hillel is in the lower left.

The center will serve the UC San Diego student community by hosting Jewish holiday experiences, Jewish learning, and related activities. 

“It will be a symbol of justice and a reminder that every Jewish young person in our city matters and that they deserve a place to feel safe and loved. This center is a proclamation that our city is truly a city for all of us,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who attended the groundbreaking.

The start of construction follows a decision by the California Courts of Appeal that ended the last of a series of lawsuits from 2006 to 2021 challenging the project. With the last hurdle cleared, the Hillel center is expected to open in fall 2022.

Hillel of San Diego Executive Director Karen Parry said the center will play an important role in the greater San Diego community.

“As antisemitism is on the rise all over the country, our new Hillel center will serve as a connector to the larger UC San Diego community to build bridges,” she said.

In 2000, Hillel of San Diego was awarded exclusive rights to purchase the vacant property from the city to build the student center. Residents initially opposed the project, but Hillel worked with the city and community to make changes, and gained unanimous approval from the City Council in 2017. 

Groundbreaking at the Hillel site on Sunday. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Led by a $5 million pledge from the late philanthropist Joseph “Chickie” Glickman, who was a neighbor of the project site, Hillel of San Diego has already raised significant contributions and pledges to fund the project. 

With the start of construction, Hillel is continuing its capital fundraising campaign for the center, with a goal of raising an additional $3.9 million. Those interested in supporting the fundraising effort can visit www.glickmancenter.org.  

Hillel is a national organization that encourages students of all backgrounds to form deep, personal connections to Jewish life, learning and Israel.

Updated at 12:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 19

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Chris Jennewein

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