Bringing Rutgers Hillel a step closer to fully funding its new home, the Marion and Norman Tanzman Charitable Foundation has donated $1 million toward its dining hall.
The kosher dining hall will be named in honor of the Tanzmans, whose Woodbridge-based foundation has made several substantial gifts to Hillel over the years.
The $18 million Eva and Arie Halpern Hillel House, located on College Avenue on the university’s main New Brunswick campus, is under construction and is expected to be completed for the spring 2016 semester.
The donation brings the total raised so far by Hillel to $14.3 million.
Executive director Andrew Getraer said Hillel was “tremendously grateful” for the continuing assistance from the Tanzman foundation, which has been “one of the largest and most loyal supporters of our Hillel over the years.
“I think it very appropriate that one of the largest and most prominent rooms will bear the Tanzman name.”
Getraer said the foundation made an initial pledge, whose amount he declined to specify, and has for many years made an annual donation to Hillel.
Former state senator and real estate executive Norman Tanzman died in 2004; Marion Tanzman died in 1994. Foundation president Jeffries Shein, their son-in-law, is himself a Rutgers graduate.
“When construction began on the new building we felt an impetus to step up and support this project,” he told NJJN. “My family has been supporting Rutgers for well over 40 years. We believe strongly in the mission of Rutgers Hillel and wanted to make a gift that would enable the students and professionals to greatly expand their services and activities.”
Shein said it was decided to earmark the money toward the dining hall because of its large size and the number of students who will use it. The 400-seat facility will serve Shabbat and holiday meals and will be designed to convert to offer film screenings, cultural presentations, and other programs.
“For 18 years Rutgers has been providing free Shabbat meals for hundreds of students every week out of an inadequate kitchen and small dining space,” Shein said. “The Marion and Norman Tanzman Dining Room will allow significant expansion of these services.”
Hillel board president Roy Tanzman, also a Rutgers alumnus, is a nephew of the Tanzmans and an officer in the foundation. Rutgers Hillel, he said, has “long been a model to Hillels across the country for progressive and creative religious and cultural programming.”
Its new 35,000-square-foot facility will also feature individual prayer space for Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox services, an indoor-outdoor kosher cafe, a Center for Israel Engagement, an exhibit gallery, social lounges, meeting rooms, an outdoor patio, and a rooftop Holocaust memorial garden.
Rutgers has the second-largest number of Jewish students of any campus in the United States, with 7,200 undergraduate and graduate students.
Rutgers Hillel has received several large donations toward its new facility. The five children of the late Eva and Arie Halpern made a $3 million gift in memory of their Polish Holocaust survivor parents, the Wilf family donated $2 million, and the former Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County made a $500,000 gift to name the main student lounge and establish a yearly Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County Leadership Symposium.