Rutgers University will begin the 2015-16 school year with the largest Jewish undergraduate population of any college in the nation.
That historic benchmark was announced by Hillel executive director Andrew Getraer during the annual Rutgers Hillel Gala June 22 at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston.
According to statistics released by Hillel International just days before the event, Rutgers will have 6,400 Jewish undergraduates in September, surpassing the University of Central Florida in Orlando, which will have 6,000 Jewish undergrads.
Rutgers will also have more than 1,000 Jewish graduate students on campus.
Getraer updated the crowd of 330 — one of the largest ever to attend a Hillel gala — about the new $18 million Eva & Arie Halpern Hillel House on College Avenue on the university’s New Brunswick campus. The building is scheduled to open in spring 2016.
“We’re very proud to have the largest Jewish population in the country, but also humbled by the responsibility,” Getraer told NJJN. “It is now the responsibility of the community to reach out to support this large number of students for the greater good of the Jewish community.”
Getraer also announced that the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation has endowed the outdoor terrace at the new building in honor of Ruth Marcus Patt, a longtime foundation trustee and Hillel board member who died several months ago.
Marty and Beth Aron of Springfield received the Rabbi Julius Funk Alumni Award and Sara Sideman of Cherry Hill, the Young Alumni Award.
The program also honored Joseph Hollander of Holmdel and Mitch Frumkin of Kendall Park with Visionary in Partnership Awards for their work in merging the former federations of Greater Middlesex and Monmouth counties into the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ.
Hollander’s father, Sandy, presented him with a congratulatory letter from Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Great Britain. The elder Hollander himself helped facilitate the merger of the Morris-Sussex Jewish Federation with the Jewish Community Federation of Metropolitan New Jersey, then encompassing Essex and parts of Union County. He later served as president of the merged federation, now known as the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. Rutgers Hillel is a beneficiary of the federation.
Joseph Hollander, an independent consultant with a diverse background in strategic planning, marketing, and technology, has held Jewish communal positions locally and nationally.
Marty Aron graduated from Rutgers in 1979, where he had been a member of Hillel Choir, Rutgers University Chorus, and Rutgers Glee Club. Through Hillel he learned of Zamir Chorale in New York, where he met Beth.
While he became a lawyer and she became an accountant, they have sung with the chorale for more than 30 years at such venues as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the White House. Marty served as the Zamir Choral Foundation’s first president and remains on its executive committee; Beth currently serves as treasurer. He is on the board of Congregation Israel of Springfield, a former board member of the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner High School in Livingston, and a liaison to the Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest NJ job bank program. Both have volunteered at the Jewish Family Service of Central NJ food bank in Elizabeth.
Sideman, a 2008 graduate, is the assistant director of the JCC Camps at Medford, after serving six years as director of teen services at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly. At Rutgers, she served as Hillel president; president of Koach, the Conservative movement’s student group; and sang with Kol Halayla, the Jewish a cappella choir.