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Davis, California

Saturday, October 23, 2021

New home proposed for Hillel House

xLast month, the city of Davis planning commission approved a proposal for the building of a new facility for Hillel House.

Hillel House is the non-profit umbrella organization for Jewish-interest groups at the university, such as the Jewish Law Student Association and the Hillel Social Action group.

It has been part of the UC Davis community for over 45 years, sponsoring about 500 programs with an attendance of 10 to 40 members per event. Currently, it is housed in two adjacent, single-family structures located on A Street.

The building at 328 A St. is about 7,840 square feet and provides office and program space. The 7,000-square foot building at 322 A St. has been rented out to students since 1994. The city approved a plan to replace these two buildings with a single, two-story facility with a basement. Total square footage of the facility will be about 9,144.

“A new Hillel house has been a dream of thousands of students and we are excited about the prospect of finally breaking ground next year,” said Raphael Moore, chair of the Hillel Capital Project, in an application statement. The proposal for the new facility includes a chapel, a study room and library and offices for the organization’s four employees. There will also be a kosher kitchen to prepare meals for events such as Tuesday Lunch and Shabbat dinners.

A multipurpose dining room with a capacity for 114 people, as well as additional recreation and meeting rooms on the second floor, are planned to accommodate these current services. Proposed parking for the facility is in the basement and the side street.

“Programming and attendance at Hillel has steadily increased and cannot be adequately housed in the current location,” Moore said. “A typical Shabbat dinner at Hillel House begins with a religious service that attracts 40 to 50 students. That is followed by a Sabbath meal, often attended by 80 to 100 people.”

In order to accommodate people, the auditorium-style seating for the service will be turned into banquet seating. At present, set up requires work, which violates Jewish law of working on Sabbath.

“As a result, the more observant students cannot, and do not, attend such events,” Moore said.

A new facility for Hillel House has been in the works for more than a decade. In 1996, the city received a proposal for a new Hillel House facility. That proposal was for the construction of a 14,000-square foot, three-story facility to house its programs. It also included housing units for 20 students. Over the following years, the facility was redesigned as a smaller, two-story facility with no residential units.

In 2002, the city council approved the expansion for the Hillel House facility. Another application was submitted in September 2005 when the previous approval expired in March of that year. Due to funding issues, that application was put on hold until February 2010.

With the proposal recently approved, the city will soon move forward to finalize plans and break ground for the new facility.

SARAHNI PECSON can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

Correction – Dec. 2, 2010: The article states that the building at 328 A St. is 7,840 square feet and the building at 322 A St. is 7,000 square feet. The reported square footage is actually that of the parcel of land, not of the buildings themselves.

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