Please join us in thanking President John Fry and Drexel University for its extraordinary commitment to Drexel’s Jewish students, alumni and parents by celebrating with us the groundbreaking for the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life, to be the permanent home of Hillel at Drexel University.
Read Rabbi Isabel’s remarks from the groundbreaking:
Im tirzu, ain zo agadah – Theodore Herzl once famously said, “If you will it, it is no dream.”
Nearly 100 years ago Jewish students at the Drexel Institute formed a chapter of the Menorah Society, and with it the school’s first Jewish student organization. For decades, Jewish Drexel students worked tirelessly to create opportunities for Jewish celebrations and connections, creating flashes of meaning and sparks of joy, as they struggled to build a home for themselves lacking a sufficient permanent space to call their own. Today as we break ground for the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life we mark the transition of Jewish life at Drexel from a wandering community with a dream for something bigger, to a community with a permanent home in which to live, to learn, to sing, to dance, to imagine a better future, and to build it – for our Jewish community and the entire world.
“If you will it, it is no dream.” Thanks to the profound generosity of Ray Perelman, along with the generosity, time and energy of all of you gathered here – today our dream becomes reality.
In the book of Isaiah, we learn “all your children shall be disciples of the LORD, and great shall be the happiness of your children.” In the Talmud, our rabbis explain that this verse should be read with the second mention of “your children,” “banayich” in Hebrew, not as “your children”, “banayich,” but as “bonayich,” “your builders.” – “all your children shall be disciples of the Lord, and great shall be the happiness of your builders.” The builders are those who create opportunities for Torah to come into the world, those who create opportunities for holy work and holy purpose to transform the routine of daily living.
Ray – you, along with all of your family, all of our Drexel students and all of our Hillel supporters gathered today – embody the teaching of this text, demonstrating together that each generation is of vital importance in continuing to build up the Jewish people. Each of you in your commitments to building the Perelman Center for Jewish Life and the Hillel that will animate it, have demonstrated that joy and happiness are increased when we become the builders of Torah.
The Perelman Center for Jewish Life will empower generations of Drexel students to walk in your footsteps, inspiring them to be builders of the Jewish future, and the future of our wider community.
In the students who will be the first to call the Perelman Center home, we can already see the future that awaits us. The future will be built by students like Max, a Modern Orthodox student, who is passionate about Jewish pluralism and committed to helping Orthodox, Conservative and Reform prayer communities thrive at Hillel. It will be built by students like Shira, whose own experience in our Freshman early move-in program inspired her to build a mentorship initiative bringing Jewish upperclassmen together with first year students. It will be built by students like Gabby who found her passion for Israel on a Hillel Birthright Israel trip and is now helping to build connection to Israel among students within and beyond the Jewish community. And it will be built by countless other student leaders – students who are religious and students who are secular, students whose passion is for social justice and students who are inspired by Jewish arts and culture. Students who are driven by a commitment to Israel, and students who are engaged by a warm and intimate Shabbat experience.
The opening of the Perelman Center will mean that for today’s students and tomorrow’s, their ability to bring Torah into the world, and to build inspired, relevant communities of meaning and connection will be amplified one hundred fold, making Drexel a premier destination for those seeking vibrant Jewish life on campus.
As we embark on this journey to our new home we ask for blessings for the health and vitality of all of our supporters, of all of our students, and for all of the craftsmen and professionals whose hands will build our new home.
Barukh atah adonai eloheinu melekh haolam shehechiyanu, v’ki’imanu, v’higiyanu lazman hazeh
Blessed are you Lord our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has enlived us, preserved us and enabled us to reach this moment.
Hazak, hazak v’nithazek! May we go from strength to strength!