News Release: Events, Religion and Ethics, University News

Apr. 29,  2008

Marcus Hillel Center at Emory Groundbreaking Set for May 4

Hillel at Emory University enters a new era this spring when the organization breaks ground on the Marcus Hillel Center, named in honor of Bernie Marcus, Atlanta philanthropist and co-founder of The Home Depot. A ceremonial ground breaking will take place at the building's site on Gatewood Road at 3 p.m., Sunday, May 4. The program will feature remarks from Marcus, Emory President James Wagner, Rabbi Alvin Sugarman and others.

The Marcus Hillel Center will serve as a center for Jewish life at Emory and headquarters for Hillels of Georgia, which both serve thousands of students each year. The facility also will be a new venue available to the entire Emory and Atlanta community. Located on Gatewood Road next to the Woodruff Residential Center adjacent to Emory's campus, the facility will include a lounge and caf�, conference facilities, student meeting and work spaces, event space, chapel and patio areas for social gatherings.

"Thanks to Bernie's vision and philanthropic investment, Emory Hillel is building a world-class facility to serve as a vibrant hub of Jewish life on campus for Emory Hillel. This will enhance our ability to engage more Jewish students, keep them connected and create new leaders for our communities" says Mike Wien, president of Hillels of Georgia Board of Directors.

Michael Rabkin, director of Emory Hillel says the impact of the new building will be most significant on the Emory Hillel. "It will be a home-away-from home for Jewish students and a place where everyone is welcome to explore Jewish arts, culture, spirituality and community," Rabkin says.

The Billi and Bernie Marcus Foundation provided a lead gift of $3 million to build the Marcus Hillel Center at Emory as a challenge grant. "People from across the country have been answering the call, and we are very close to reaching our goal," says Jody Franco, capital campaign co-chair. The total campaign goal of $9.2 million includes a $2 million endowment to finance the operation of the facility. The center is expected to open by fall of 2009, and will bring Emory's Hillel building on par with similar facilities at peer institutions.

Marcus also will serve as Emory's commencement speaker May 12 and will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Marcus's civic involvement includes the creation of The Marcus Foundation where he serves as chairman of the board. His areas of focus include Jewish causes, children, medical research, free enterprise and the community. A centerpiece of his desire to give back to the community is the $290 million Georgia Aquarium, which opened in Atlanta in November 2005 and is the largest aquarium in the world.

Emory Hillel is the center for Jewish campus life at Emory. It is a part of Hillels of Georgia, which is an affiliate agency of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and a beneficiary of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Emory Hillel is integrated into the university community through its dynamic programs, co-sponsored events, and the involvement of active students in many other university groups.  

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