Maryland Hillel is in the process of revising plans for a new Hillel Center that will be at 7505 Yale Ave., according to College Park planning director Terry Schum.
There was a design prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Maryland Hillel switched contractors and architects because of cost, according to Shawn Laing, Hillel’s director of finance and operations. The goal to open the new Hillel by fall 2024.
The current Hillel, located on Mowatt Lane, is about 16,700 square feet whereas the new Hillel will be more than 39,000 square feet, Laing wrote in an email. This space will be big enough for the thousands of Jewish students at the University of Maryland.
“We’re bursting at the seams,” Laing said. “Our opening barbecue, we have 1,000 students come through, and there’s just nowhere to put anybody.”
Maryland Hillel is doing a land swap with this university, Laing said, so Maryland Hillel will own the land on Yale Avenue and the university will own the land the current Hillel is on. Before Hillel moved to Mowatt Lane, it was on Yale Avenue.
The pandemic stopped the fundraising and the planning process for the new location, and it took a while to get things up and running again, Laing said.
The new Hillel will include a cafe that will be open from early morning to late evening, Laing said. Other features include a yoga and a cappella room, a small rooftop deck on the second floor balcony and a demo kitchen for cooking classes.
“We want to make it more accessible for other groups too,” Laing said. “We’re catering to more of the campus community.”
The architect wanted to follow this university’s architectural style, Laing said.
Zack Arking, a freshman computer engineering major, has seen the new Hillel’s blueprints and projections. He wants to know how the extra space will be used.
“I’m excited to see where it takes the community,” Arking said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s that important [to have a bigger space] but it’s always good to shoot for higher.”
Maryland Hillel is one of the largest campus communities, according to the Maryland Hillel website. Hillel hosts cultural, religious and education programs for Jewish students on the campus.
Students such as Mia Cohen go to Hillel for meals and socializing.
“This is where I can get access to Jewish resources,” the freshman enrolled in letters and sciences said. “You come in and you can already feel [a community]. I hope it’s the same with the new one, even if it’s bigger.”