Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

The dedication of Jeffrey & Diane Ginsburg Hillel House at Stetson


November 29, 2019

On Friday evening, Nov. 22, the Jeffrey & Diane Ginsburg Hillel House at Stetson University Hillel was dedicated. It was an incredible event made even more special by the more than 100 people who joined us at the House to celebrate Jewish life at Stetson University. This is the speech Stetson Hillel Director Sam Friedman gave.

When I was growing up, my mother always told me that the best part about being Jewish is that no matter where you go if you find the Jewish community you find family-the Jewish community will take care of you, and help you, and feed you and feed you and feed you...

Now, she was wrong, because the best part about being Jewish is brisket, but her sentiment remains, and I believe speaks to the value of Hillel and the importance of the Jeffrey and Diane Ginsburg Hillel House. This house is the promise that the Jewish community makes to itself.

Here, Jewish students can come to watch TV, do homework and spend time with each other. In our library, our students can disagree with each other, they can learn and debate with each other, as Jews have done since the Sanhedrin. When they're sick they can come, heat a bowl of matzah ball soup, lay on the couch and know that someone will sit with them, offer them help, and that they won't have to be sick alone. Here we will prep for birthright, listen to speakers, make challah and hamentashen, and celebrate the Jewish holidays. Here is where community stops being a spectator sport.

This house, the Jeffrey and Diane Ginsburg house, is the physical manifestation of Kol Yisroel arevim ze la ze-all of Israel is responsible for one another.

It's also the modern version of Abraham's Tent-open on all sides to be welcoming to anyone who passes by and anyone who needs us. This year, Stetson Hillel has partnered with several other communities on campus, and this house will allow us, and our friends and allies, to not worry about space or safety issues when we work with each other and when we need each other.

Hillel at Stetson started with a little red wagon, and we have grown into a big red house, and the only way we could make this happen is through the generosity of all of you.

Before I conclude my remarks, there are several people that deserve our thanks and praise.

First, to the Ginsburg Family, Alan, Ron, Sharon and of course, Joe, thank you for believing that Jewish life at Stetson matters, and for honoring Jeff and Diane through this beautiful home.

To President Wendy and Richard Libby, thank you for gently pushing for Hillel at Stetson and for all your support as we continue to grow and evolve here on campus.

To Joel Bauman, our vice president of Enrollment Management, thank you for not so gently pushing for Hillel at Stetson, and for being willing to fight battles and step up to the plate when we need you. Todah rabah.

To Joshua Truitt and Rina Arroyo, who I shared this speech with earlier without including, thank you for everything. You embody all the best of Jewish values-you're absolute mensches and as I like to say, you're basically Jew-ish.

To Shelby Swygert, who was shown a picture of the Hillel house and hand drew-in pen-the gifts tonight. Thank you for sharing your talent with us and I'm sure you wouldn't mind being commissioned for future sketches.

To the incredible students at Stetson. Thank you for being willing to take risks and try new things and to truly own your Jewish community on campus. We have with us Rabbi Debbie Pine from Hillel International who when she visited Stetson met with the students and shared with me that we are the only Hillel in Florida that is truly student run. That's a huge testament to the quality of students we have at Stetson. Thank you Debbie for making the trip to celebrate with us.

Finally, thank you to all of you for being here tonight. Whether you schlepped to DeLand from Baltimore or, well, the other side of DeLand, your time matters and is valuable and we are so grateful you chose to be with us this evening.


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