On the last night of Hanukkah, Hebrew College officially kindled a unique partnership of Boston-based organizations, both local and national, to break ground on a new home in Auburndale, Newton, and form a dynamic interdisciplinary center of Jewish learning, leadership, community and creativity.
The Dec. 5, 2021, groundbreaking ceremony marked a milestone for Hebrew College—in a year when the College is also celebrating its centennial—and culminated in the lighting of a full Hanukkiah with shared campus partners Temple Reyim, Jewish Arts Collaborative, Jewish Women’s Archive, Kesher Newton, Keshet, Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center and Zamir Chorale of Boston.
“This is a moment of both arrival and anticipation, achievement and aspiration,” said Hebrew College president Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld. “As we celebrate 100 years since Hebrew College first opened its doors, we are thrilled to begin our next chapter together, creating a vibrant communal hub that brings together so many different expressions of Jewish life. Education, art, music, community, justice, movement, study, spiritual practice and prayer—may all of these be openings to deeper learning and growth, to compassion, creativity and a heightened awareness that we are each part of a greater whole.”
“It’s Hanukkah and the metaphors for a groundbreaking of a dynamic national and international model abound,” said Rabbi Marc Baker, president and CEO of CJP. “[This] is about the renewal and dynamism of what takes place in that space, collective light that shines brighter than any one of those candles could on its own…. May this be a place of deep connectivity that yields creativity and possibility for our entire community and for generations to come.”
The groundbreaking came two years after Hebrew College and Temple Reyim began planning together for the new shared campus.
“If there’s one theme for today, it’s hevruta, partnership. Jewish tradition and practice guide us toward partnership,” said Hebrew College board chair Andy Offit. “Trust, kindness and caring, if we can lead with this, we’ll be an example for Jewish communities throughout the nation and around the world.”
Event speakers included Massachusetts State Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, CJP president and CEO Rabbi Marc Baker, Hebrew College president Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld and Temple Reyim spiritual leader Rabbi Daniel Berman.
“This feels like a really great day in the City of Newton,” Mayor Fuller said. “Celebrating Jewish learning and leadership, collaboration and creativity, sustainability and shared goals, artists and activists, pragmatism and vision, all anchored by Hebrew College and Temple Reyim.”
“With all these terrific organizations located in one place, there will be incredible opportunities for deeper learning and more extensive collaboration,” Sen. Creem said. “I’m confident that with all of us carefully tending to it, this shared campus will blossom into the flower of Jewish life in Greater Boston.”
Hebrew College raised $13.2 million for the new shared campus through its ongoing capital campaign, “Branching Out, Building Together.” The project will extensively renovate the existing Temple Reyim property and construct a two-floor, state-of-the-art addition, called the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Education Building, thanks to a challenge grant of $1 million early in the campaign from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Supporting Foundation.
In August 2018, Hebrew College made the decision to sell its current campus in Newton Center to eliminate debt, rededicate resources to people and programs and prepare for the future through new opportunities for strategic partnership and collaboration. Hebrew College plans to move to its new home in January 2023.
“We welcome you with all of our hearts as you build your own homes in partnership as neighbors and friends,” said Temple Reyim’s Rabbi Daniel Berman. “Institutionally and constitutionally, Jewishly and civically, this is our work, to lift each other up, and we believe that being here together on this shared campus will help us all do this work, each through our own distinct missions.”
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