Campus News

Grand opening held for Orkin Hillel Center

UGA President Jere W. Morehead speaks during the opening of the Orkin Hillel Center. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Former Baxter Street Bookstore becomes a new space for UGA’s Jewish community

Several community leaders and members joined Hillels of Georgia for the grand opening of the new Orkin Hillel Center at UGA on Aug. 25.

“I want to thank all of you who have been a critical part of making today possible. Your generous support has helped make this happen,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “This facility will enable our Jewish community at the University of Georgia to make even greater connections and find their home at UGA.”

UGA Hillel renovated the former Baxter Street Bookstore. The new 10,000-square-foot building is a space for UGA’s Jewish community to focus on programming, fellowship and community development.

Renovations include larger kitchen space to prepare Shabbat dinners, conference rooms for community events, and open spaces for Jewish and non-Jewish students alike to gather. In particular, its proximity to residence halls that house first-year students gives those students an even more accessible way to connect with their faith.

Kenny Orkin hangs the mezuzah at the Orkin Hillel Center. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

UGA Hillel is the second largest Jewish student community in the state and offers programming such as a Jewish Learning Fellowship, Shabbat dinners, game day parking and events, yoga, community service, Onward Israel internships and Birthright trips to Israel to Jewish UGA students.

“In the heart of this university, this Hillel center stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration,” said Jeremy Lichtig, campus director for UGA Hillel. “Through collaboration with exceptional students, we have fostered an environment of growth, learning and connection. Our engagement with these bright minds has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Together, we have nurtured a thriving community that stands as a testament to what can be achieved when hearts and minds come together.”

Hillel is an international organization of Jewish students on more than 600 college campuses across the world. Whether through a physical gathering space or a sense of community, Hillel allows Jewish students to find other students of their faith at their university and connect through events, religious services and student fellowship.

“A home is where you feel comfortable and like yourself. A home is where you can be you and not be afraid to do what you love. Hillel has been my home the last four years, and I have been able to grow and become a more confident leader in my community and classes,” Leah Bernstein, a senior majoring in accounting in the Terry College of Business and a member of UGA Hillel’s Jewish Life Committee.

Hillels of Georgia oversees the operations and fundraising for the two dozen Hillel groups across Georgia universities, including UGA Hillel.

For more information about the expansion and development project, or to donate to the capital campaign, please visit the UGA Hillel website.