Leaving 93 College Avenue
By Sam Hollander ‘13
Life after Rutgers… After four years of being part of a community, it is hard to say goodbye to a place that feels like home. Rather than joining my peers in the real world of employment, I decided to pack my bags and spend the year studying in Israel.
During my time at Rutgers, my Facebook was constantly flooded with new invites to countless daily events at Rutgers Hillel. However, over the past few weeks instead I have encountered many posts and pictures of the gradual move of Rutgers Hillel from 93 College Avenue to 8 Bishop Place, all climaxing in a video surveying the empty rooms of Hillel… Yes, I cried.
Last week my Talmud class at Pardes began our studies in Chapter 4 of tractate Megilah. The chapter discusses the sanctity of objects and of a synagogue, as well as the process of building a new synagogue.
We began by discussing who claims ownership of a synagogue. The Talmud differentiates between a synagogue that is located in a city and a synagogue located in a village. A synagogue in a village only serves that specific community and therefore is owned by that community. However, just like Rutgers Hillel, a synagogue located in a city is a place that serves both the local and larger communities and thus is owned by all. In other words, the Talmud explains that Rutgers Hillel is truly a home away from home for students on campus. For the alum, RU Hillel will always continue to be a second home for us!
As I watched the video of the empty rooms of 93 College Avenue, the building for the first time looked like just a normal building. It was not the furniture and decorations that made Hillel special, but rather it was the constant activity and voices of students and staff that made Hillel a true place of kedusha, holiness. The Talmud explains that a place acquires holiness through frequent usage of the space. According to this definition, Rutgers Hillel is most certainly a holy place.
Although we will miss the charm and squeaky stairs of 93 College Avenue, I know that the kedusha and the feeling of community will continue to grow in both 8 Bishop Place and in the new building to come. Best of luck to Rutgers Hillel in your new home!