Radical Hospitality: $15 Million Upgrade to UC San Diego’s Hillel Program

by Leorah Gavidor July 26, 2018


laura-galinson-capital-cabinet-chair-elaine-galinson-honorary-committee-chair-joseph-glickman-zl-rabbi-david-singer-representative-scott-petersWe call it “radical hospitality,” explained Rabbi David Singer, executive director of Hillel San Diego’s UCSD program. “Our tent is open to everyone.”

That proverbial tent is about to get a major upgrade: plans are underway for the new Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center for Jewish Life across from UC San Diego’s campus. At the corner of La Jolla Scenic Drive North and La Jolla Village Drive, the new facility will be a welcoming presence to anyone entering La Jolla by that route.

The significance of the location is not lost on Singer, who pointed out that Jews were not always welcome in La Jolla. Until 1964 racially restrictive covenants, akin to homeowners’ associations, kept Jewish people and other ethnic minorities from buying property in certain parts of town.

Voice of San Diego journalist Adrian Florido dug up this statement from a home built in 1939 in the La Jolla Hermosa development: “No part of said property, or any buildings thereon, shall be used or occupied by any person not belonging to the Caucasian race, either as owner, lessee, licensee, tenant, or in any other capacity than that of servant or employee.”

With Roger Revelle’s insistence that Jewish professors would be part of the university and therefore live in the neighborhood, the growth of UCSD brought a de facto end to the practice. Now several temples and many Jewish residents make La Jolla home. In the same neighborhood where the new center will be, UCSD Hillel currently operates out of a single-family residence on Cliffridge Avenue. They had their eyes on a move to that prominent corner city-owned parcel since 1998. The city deemed it surplus in 2002 and gave Hillel San Diego rights to negotiate for it.

But stiff opposition from neighbors dragged out the process, as did a lawsuit brought against the city by La Jolla Highlands Homeowners Association. Residents claimed a student center would increase traffic and noise in the area, and that already scant parking would be harder to find. The La Jolla-based non-profit Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use also opposed the project. The homeowners association eventually lost the suit, which allowed the sale to go forward in 2006. Then came another lawsuit by the La Jolla Shores Association, claiming that the proposed project violated environmental law.

That prompted an Environmental Impact Report, which Rabbi Singer said turned out to be a boone to the project. The report concluded that traffic and noise would not be negatively impacted, and it stipulated green space must be part of the new design. Singer said that this encouraged the architects to create a public garden space that will be a signature of the project and will be open for all the neighbors to enjoy.

6,500 square feet of flexible space for meetings, classes, celebrations, services, and activities will serve not only the UCSD Jewish student population, but those who seek a sense of community. Yoga and wellness classes, leadership training, and mentoring, among other offerings, add to the traditional birthright trips and Jewish student life that Hillel organizations provide.

The complex will comprise three buildings surrounding a courtyard, with dedicated car and bicycle parking on the property. The buildings will meet Leed Silver standards and generate 30-50 percent of their energy by solar.

A unanimous “yes” vote by San Diego City Council in October 2017 cemented the future of the center, and a $5 million starter gift from Joseph Glickman secured the property for Hillel San Diego. Though he passed away earlier this year at 102 years old, “Chickie,” as he was known, had the opportunity to break ground on the project. Singer shared the story.

“Before he died, Chickie was able to see the beginning of the project that was his passion.”

Glickman dedicated the site and blessed the venture’s future with the planting of a pomegranate tree in what will be the courtyard. His granddaughter has carried on the legacy by leading the $15 million capital campaign.

“We are so blessed to have the support of so many UCSD alumni, students, and faculty, as well as so many community members—laypeople—who have wanted to see this project succeed,” said Singer.


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