With past locations on South Prospect Street or Colchester Avenue, UVM Hillel has long been located on the fringe of campus. Those locations belied the centrality of Hillel to the spiritual, social, and intellectual lives of many Jewish students and the broader campus community, particularly as the organization has grown significantly in recent years.
That all changed in August with Hillel’s move into the Burack Hillel Center, located in the renovated Vermont marble and slate building at 439 College Street, originally home to Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Across the street from Waterman, next-door-neighbors with the president’s Englesby House residence, steps from the Green, it’s on one of the most traveled paths between campus and downtown.
Allyson Tazbin ’20, an early childhood education/special education major, is president of UVM Hillel. She notes that expansive space in the new location has already made an impact. Shabbat dinners last year would typically draw approximately fifty students; attendance has more than tripled at every Shabbat this semester. The Challah for Hunger fundraiser often packs the Hillel kitchen with student bakers on Tuesday evenings.
The three-story building includes event space and offices for Hillel staff on the first floor and additional space for events or services on the top level. The second floor is currently UVM residence hall space; a number of the residents are students active in Hillel.
The center is named for the Burack family, longtime champions of UVM Hillel. Daniel Burack ’55, Hon ’08, a member of the UVM Foundation’s Leadership Council and chair of the UVM Hillel Board, and his wife, Carole Burack ’08, made a gift of $2.5 million in 2017 towards the new home for Hillel.
UVM Hillel has received support from numerous alumni and parents, Debbie Koslow Stern ’72 G’75 and Mitchell Stern ’79 among them. Debbie Stern recalls the immediate sense of welcome she received from Hillel as a first-year student and, years later, the organization would also impact the college experience of her son David Moss ’02 G’10. “I am honored to be able to help promote Hillel at UVM to give future generations of students opportunities for growth, validation, community, and a home away from home,” Stern says.