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Hebrew Union College to Build New Home in N.Y. and Associate with NYU

September 14, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is planning to build a new home for its New York school on a site adjacent to the New York University campus at Washington Square, it has been announced by Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, president.

Simultaneously, Gottschalk and Dr. John C. Sawhill, president of New York University, said in a joint statement that they have agreed upon a cooperative relationship which will result in academic collaboration between the two autonomous institutions. Gottschalk said the Hebrew Union College board of governors has authorized the purchase from New York University of a vacant 17,000-square-foot plot. Construction of the five-story building is expected to begin early in 1978, with occupancy in the fall of 1979. The cost of the purchase of the land and of construction is estimated at $7 million.

Gottschalk reported that almost $5 million of that sum already has been pledged or contributed, including an initial challenge grant of $1.5 million from the Brookdale Foundation. In recognition of this and other gifts from the foundation, the new building will be named the Brookdale Center of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

New York University is anticipating the arrival of Hebrew Union College at Washington Square "with much enthusiasm," Sawhill said. "The proximity of Hebrew Union College to New York University will provide many opportunities for students and faculty of both institutions to share in the resources of the other."


The New York School of Hebrew Union College consists of a Rabbinic School, a School of Sacred Music and a School of Education. It has occupied its present facility on 68th Street, near Central Park West, since 1922. "It is a building we have long since outgrown," said Dr. Gottschalk.

Several opportunities to move and overcome the shortcomings of the West 68th Street building had presented themselves in recent years, according to President Gottschalk. In each case, it meant relocating away from New York City, he said, and that was unacceptable to the administration, the faculty and the board of governors. "The intellectual and cultural vitality of New York City is unparalleled," the president said. "We believe in New York City and its future. If we are to stay in the mainstream of Jewish life and continue to serve Jewry most effectively, we can do so only by having a strong presence in New York City."

The opportunity to gain adequate and proper facilities for Reform Judaism’s only institution of higher education on the Eastern seaboard is but one of two enormous dividends that will be gained by our move," Dr. Gottschalk said. "The other, of course, is the institutional cooperation which Dr. Sawhill and I have agreed upon." New York University, with a total enrollment exceeding 40,000, ranks among the largest private colleges and universities in the country.


A broad range of cooperative efforts is being planned by academic representatives of the two institutions. Rabbinic students at Hebrew Union College, for instance, will be able to enrich their studies in NYU courses in Near Eastern languages and literature and in Hebrew culture. Cantorial students will find supplementary courses in the university’s music and music education departments. The NYU School of Education will be of special interest to HUC students training as religious school teachers and administrators.

Reciprocally, the college’s broad curriculum in such fields as Jewish history, Bible, modern Hebrew literature, philosophy and liturgical music will be available to New York University students. So, too, will a chapel that is to be constructed as an integral part of the new building. The chapel will seat 250. The building will include a conference center, classroom and seminar rooms, administrative and faculty offices and a library containing reading, reference, rare book and periodical rooms. A student-faculty lounge and rehearsal halls for cantorial students also are included in the plans.

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