(JTA) — University of Alabama students and administrators celebrated the groundbreaking of a new Hillel House.
About 100 people attended the ceremony on the Tuscaloosa campus Sunday. The original Hillel site, which had served the campus Jewish community for more than 50 years, was sold in 2008 to the university at the university’s request. For the last two years, Jewish students have met in a building near campus.
The new campus Hillel building will be about 4,200 square feet, and will house a student lounge, multipurpose room, kitchen, library and courtyard.
“The addition of a new home for Hillel is very important for the university,” University of Alabama President Robert Witt said during the ceremony. “We want all students to have the opportunity to grow in religion as they also grow intellectually and socially.”
There are about 700 Jewish students at the university, a 50 percent increase over a few years ago, according to the Tuscaloosa News.