Ground broken for Jewish Center

by Jacqueline Rose | 6/21/96 5:00am

In a ceremony attended by about 200 people, College President James Freedman and the family of Steven Roth '62 lead the groundbreaking for the Roth Center for Jewish Life May 29.

The members of Roth's family were the principal contributors to the $3 million building fund.

The 11,000 square-foot structure, which will be built on a lot beside Delta Delta Delta sorority on Occom Ridge Road, will replace the current home of Hillel on Summer Street near Hanover High School. Hillel is the College's Jewish students' organization.

Construction of the Roth Center will begin later this month.

"It was a beautiful event," College President James Freedman said of the groundbreaking. "It had a wonderful sense of significance."

Hillel President Molli Hamermesh '98 said the people attending the ceremony stood in a rectangle marking where the building's outside wall's will stand.

"I am excited and gracious that it is really going to happen and be built by my senior fall," she said.

Roth and his daughter Amanda, who graduated from Dartmouth in 1993, spoke at the groundbreaking.

"They are a beautiful family," Freedman said. "I could not be more pleased that they have chosen to support a center for Jewish life at Dartmouth."

The Roths were not available for comment.

In a speech at the ceremony, Hamermesh said the Roth Center will help alleviate the loneliness of being a Jew at the College.

"Being a Jew at Dartmouth can be a lonely experience, one oriented in individuality," she said. "But with this building, Jewish students will always feel surrounded. From the library to the game room, to the sanctuary, whether we seek a spiritual or a social outlet, a network of activity and personal retreat will always be available to us."

"It was a very special day for Dartmouth College," Administrative Assistant to the Tucker Foundation Marilyn Sturman said. "It was the beginning of seeing a home for Jewish students. It was long hoped for."

The proposed Center has been controversial ever since 70 Occom Ridge Road residents submitted a petition to Freedman and the Board of Trustees in 1993. The petition expressed concern over "parking size and placement, traffic access and safety, scope of services, and size-design of building."

The Office of Facilities Planning tried to appease residents by reducing the Center's size and increasing the amount of parking.

President of the Occom Pond Neighborhood Preservation Association James Hornig said the Association still feels the College made a poor choice in selecting Occom Ridge as the site for the new center, but said he harbors no resentment toward the College's Jewish community.

"We continue to feel as we always did," Hornig said. "We are happy that our Jewish friends are getting a nice center for Jewish students and all members of the Jewish community."

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!