GW Hillel Celebrates Progress toward New Home and Philanthropic Support at Groundraising Event

New building at 2300 H Street slated to open in fall 2020.

Groundraising for GW Hillel new building
From left: Carl Gewirz, Louis Mayberg, B.B.A. '83, Manette Mayberg and President LeBlanc at the groundraising event for the new GW Hillel building. (Harrison Jones/GW Today)
November 03, 2019

More than 40 GW Hillel supporters and George Washington University leaders gathered at the F Street House Monday evening to celebrate the progress toward a new building for GW Hillel and to thank donors who have supported the project.

During the groundraising event, Carl Gerwiz, and his wife, Nancy Gewirz, S.D. ’54, M.F.A. ’80; Mark Lerner, B.B.A. ‘75, and his wife, Judy Lerner; and Louis Mayberg, B.A. ’83, and his wife, Manette Mayberg, were recognized for their leadership contributions to support the construction of a new home for GW Hillel.

“Since joining GW, I have been struck by the strong and active Jewish community here, and I have seen first-hand how it strengthens our university,” said GW President Thomas LeBlanc. “We are thrilled to have a new dedicated, central hub for GW Hillel. The commitment, engagement and generosity of these families and other donors have helped make the dream of this new building into a reality.”

The new home for GW Hillel at the Gewirz Center is slated to open in fall of 2020. The new building will be on the same site—2300 H St. NW—as the original Gewirz Center, which was built in 1986. 

“When this state-of-the-art facility opens, we need it to be more than just a beautiful new building,” said Mr. Mayberg, the GW Hillel board chair. “We want GW Hillel to be set up for success. To focus its energy and resources on doing the essential work of the Hillel movement, building meaningful Jewish student life that leads them to make impactful contributions to their communities in the future.”

Both Dr. LeBlanc and Mr. Mayberg noted that while the majority of the funds for the $13.5 million project have been raised, a gap of nearly $4 million remains. They encouraged attendees to continue to provide support for the new home for GW Hillel and ask others to join them.

The new 21,000 square foot Gewirz Center facility, designed by Powers Brown Architecture, will provide needed communal space, kosher food and be a home for GW Hillel’s programmatic offerings. The building will allow students to connect to their Jewish identity both culturally and spiritually.

GW Hillel serves the nearly 4,500 Jewish students on GW’s campus, as well as the broader GW and Washington, D.C., communities. The university and Hillel collaborate to support the social, emotional and academic success of students. GW will lease two floors of the new five-story facility. Furthermore, Dr. LeBlanc and his wife, Anne, have made a personal donation to support the project.

At the groundraising, GW students Katelin Gochberg, a senior international affairs major, and Sam Scheinbart, a junior international affairs major, spoke about how GW Hillel has shaped their undergraduate experience.

As Ms. Gochberg put it, “With every interaction GW Hillel tells students, ‘I see you, you are welcome here. You are enough, but I want to help you grow.’”

The event also included a video that featured reflections from students, alumni and donors about the strength of the GW Hillel community. The soundtrack for the video was provided by GW juniors Noah Shufutinsky and Zach Blankstein, who co-wrote a song to celebrate the new GW Hillel building and their Jewish community.

During the groundraising, the Maybergs and Mr. Gewirz were given bricks from the original Gewirz Center in recognition of their philanthropic support to date. Nancy Gewirz was unable to attend the event, as were the Lerners, who were traveling to Texas to watch the Washington Nationals in games six and seven of the World Series.

Adena Kirstein, GW Hillel executive director, closed the evening’s remarks by reflecting on why she and her husband made the largest philanthropic commitment of their lives to the GW Hillel building project.

“I give to GW Hillel because there is no cause I believe in more,” said Ms. Kirstein. “I give because I know there is a deep Jewish light that is burning brightly here on campus. I give because our students are taking all the inputs we are helping to provide them, and they are using these inputs to hone their Jewish values and to change the world. An investment in our new home and in GW Hillel is an investment in those shaping our Jewish future.”

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