More than 100 guests celebrated the opening of the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life at Drexel University with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 26. Construction for the new facility at N. 34th Street was made possible with the help of a $6 million gift from Perelman. It is the first building at Drexel constructed entirely through private philanthropy.
Drexel President John A. Fry welcomed guests including Raymond G. Perelman along with his son Ronald Perelman. Max Kahn, student president of Hillel at Drexel, spoke about the significance of the new facility for students and Rabbi Isabel de Konick, executive director and campus rabbi of Hillel at Drexel, thanked all those who made the new facility possible.
“We are deeply grateful to the more than 40 donors who gave nearly $10 million to make this long-awaited vision for a Jewish home at Drexel a reality,” said Fry. “Although it took many hands to make this transformative project possible, we wouldn’t be here without the awe-inspiring generosity of Ray Perelman. The enormous good that Ray has done for people and communities, and organizations across our region is an example to us all. He has changed the landscape of Philadelphia and has changed our landscape at Drexel.”
The Perelman Center for Jewish Life is the first standalone facility at Drexel dedicated to Jewish student life. It’s the home of Hillel at the University and the site for Shabbat services and dinners, Jewish education programs and programs facilitating opportunities in Israel. The Perelman Center will provide a comfortable home-like meeting place where Jewish students and their friends and loved ones can socialize together.
The three-story, 14,000-square-foot structure features event space for 100 or more people, a chapel, meeting rooms, student lounges and offices for Drexel Hillel. Also included, are a kosher kitchen and kosher food services, and a large outdoor patio for socializing and construction of a Sukkah, a traditional temporary shelter built during the holiday of Succoth.
This is the second major gift to Drexel made by Perelman. In 2012, he pledged $5 million to support the creation of the Raymond G. Perelman Plaza, which covers a large swath of Drexel’s open space along the former 32nd Street between Market and Chestnut Streets. Perelman received an honorary degree from Drexel’s College of Medicine in 2012.