New Hillel Center Is a Hub

The center will welcome students and the broader Jewish community. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Though the nearly 10,000-square-foot Maxine and Carl D. Silver Hillel Center at UMW was ready to open last spring, like so many things these days, its opening was delayed by the pandemic. In late October, the newly constructed red-brick building on College Avenue finally got a socially distanced, soft opening.

In a small ceremony, donor Larry Silver, who grew up just blocks from campus, said that his parents loved Fredericksburg and the university. “This is a great way to honor them,” he said.

President Troy Paino looks forward to a full-fledged opening of the center, he said, an “intellectual, social, and cultural hub” for students and the broader Jewish community. Center director Rabbi Menachem Sherman has plans for programming to be held in its meeting rooms and large gathering space, but for now, the center can host groups of no more than 10 and everybody has to keep a distance of at least six feet to adhere to COVID safety guidelines.

As students have returned to campus this fall, the Hillel Center is beginning to welcome them. UMW senior and Jewish Student Association President Rachel Benoudiz has been waiting three years for just such a place, she said, where students can reach their academic and social potential. And it’s fun to take the short walk across College Avenue for a break and an espresso from the center’s machine.

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