Diamond Foundation Centre for Jewish Campus Life

Posted by mwinston

The new Diamond Foundation Centre for Jewish Campus Life at UBC, built in 2010, replaced the original building that had been the home to Hillel on campus since 1947. The new building brings along with it increased notability and presence on campus, asserting the importance of Hillel at UBC and the community's pride and support of a new generation of student leaders in Vancouver and across the province.

 As Pat Johnson puts it, this new building is the "effect, not the cause" of the amazing growth and support Hillel has seen over the last decade. This growth came after a decade of increased anti-Semitism on university campuses across North America during the 1990's that caused a mass reaction of support and political and social action amongst Jewish students. When these students wanted information and a way to combat anti-Semitic feelings on campus they turned to Hillel and their local Jewish community. The events during the 1990’s increased student’s awareness and participation with Hillel that kick-started the growth that hasn't seemed to slow ever since. This new building will allow Hillel at UBC to continue to grow and work in partnership with many other groups on campus who are also making use of the new building.

 

Hillel's updated mission statement "Distinctively Jewish, Universally Human" - a departure from the original mission statement of "Jews doing Jewish with other Jews" - echoes the sentiment of a new generation and a new era in Jewish organizations. As Pat says "the students and youth of today want to be Jewish and they want to be everything else as well.”

 Vancouver Hillel also developed houses on campuses at SFU in 2005 and at UVIC in 2006. Hillel’s home at SFU is an on-campus lounge, while UVIC Hillel finds its place in a residential home at the edge of campus. All of the Hillel houses have their own unique style and personality and the different spaces influence the activities and participation on each respective campus