UW-HIllel dedicates its new space

The new state-of-the-art Hillel building at the University of Wisconsin, Madison was officially dedicated with a series of special events during UW Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 16-18.

The building is named the Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life in recognition of a gift from Larry and Sue Hochberg named in memory of Larry’s late wife, Barbara Hochberg of Chicago.

Barbara Hochberg, born in Chicago, was recognized nationally and internationally as a talented business executive and a compassionate and dedicated leader of Jewish and secular causes. 

She served as the first female chair of the Jewish United Fund/ Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago in 1990. Barbara worked tirelessly as a civic leader, and her legacy will inspire generations of students at UW Hillel to be active leaders here on campus and throughout their adult lives.

Over 250 guests from around the country gathered for the weekend, which began on Friday with a special Shabbat program. On Saturday, guests attended a Dedication Program and Dinner event. The weekend ended on Sunday with a casual brunch.

The dinner featured comments by honored guests Larry Hochberg; president of Hillel International Wayne Firestone; UW Chancellor Biddy Martin; U.S. Senator Russ Feingold; Wisconsin Secretary of Workforce Development Roberta Gassman; Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz; UW alumnus and author Robert Kurson; and UW senior and Hillel board member Sharon Byer.

The speakers, many of them UW alumni, spoke warmheartedly their experiences at the UW-Madison and UW Hillel’s long and colorful history on the UW campus. Guests reminisced about UW Hillel’s past, as the former directors, staff, student leaders, and board members were remembered and graciously thanked for building such a strong foundation for Hillel in Madison. 

Greg Steinberger, Hillel’s executive director, presented a strong and promising vision for Hillel’s future in the new center.

The difference between Hillel’s former home — a small, 53-year-old building on Langdon — and the new one is striking. The new Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life is now the largest Hillel facility in the country, and the first LEED (green) certified Hillel facility.   The new building, which had a soft student opening for students this fall, features 30,000 square feet of beautiful multi-purpose spaces, lounges, a library, Café, and a fitness center (and 10,000 square feet of underground parking).

Students have already made themselves at home in the new building. Student participation at Hillel has grown dramatically since the new building opened, with Shabbat attendance doubling most weeks and increasing attendance to a variety of different social, cultural and religious programs. 

Hillel is now offering the only kosher dining option for students and community members, having recently launched its full kosher meal plan this fall.

For more information about UW Hillel’s program or the new facility, call the Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life, 608-256-8361, or e-mail info@uwhillel.org.