Malcolm Rosenberg Hillel Center
About the Center
The new building for Hillel at Virginia Tech provides an inclusive, nurturing environment with programming space needed for Jewish cultural, educational, social, and religious events. Hillel at Virginia Tech received a generous $1 million challenge gift from Diane Rosenberg to memorialize her late husband Malcolm Rosenberg (Z"l) and his commitment to help Hillel at Virginia Tech and the next generation of Jewish people and the world.
Inside the Building
The new building contains several, versatile spaces that are available for students and the community.
Our beautiful sanctuary features a local artist's stained glass and a peaceful environment for students to celebrate together.
Weekly Shabbat meals are also served every Friday night in the dining room. Our kosher meals are prepared with student input and assistance!
Finally, the student social room provides a cozy atmosphere conducive to studying, socializing, and eating our many leftovers!
Hillel at Virginia Tech's new center is not only a gathering place for study and celebration—Sue Kurtz, Executive Director of Hillel at Virginia Tech, believes that it is a legacy for generations of Hillel Hokies to come.
“It is important that freshmen or other students looking at [Tech] who are part of a vibrant Jewish community [at home] see the same existence here at Tech,” Kurtz says. “Our main goal is to provide students with an accessible place for learning and socializing and to bring some of the Jewish traditions on to campus, for everyone to participate in and learn about.”
To further our goal of being a resource to the campus community, Hillel at Virginia Tech makes its facilities available to Virginia Tech-affiliated groups on a space-available basis and in keeping with Hillel at Virginia Tech policies.
(To view the rental application, please click here.)
Malcolm and Diane Rosenberg
In 2012, Diane Rosenberg announced a one million dollar challenge gift ($1,000,000) to build a Hillel Jewish center at Virginia Tech. Although Malcolm and no one from his family ever attended Virginia Tech, he knew that the Jewish students' needs at Virginia Tech were not being met and he was going to do something.
In 2008, Malcolm Rosenberg and Sue Kurtz, Executive Director of Hillel at Virginia Tech, spoke about the need for diverse programs, a larger staff, and a gathering place for the Jewish students on campus. Malcolm embraced Sue and the students and became the driving force pushing forward. Malcolm was the man with the vision and driving tenacity that pushed Sue and the Hillel at Virginia Tech to think big and get others involved. Since his death, his widow, Diane Rosenberg, took hold of a cause near and dear to her husband and announced her challenge grant to fulfill his dream and continue his life's work of doing things in honor and in memory of the Jewish people.
Malcolm's entrepreneurial career is to many a familiar part of Roanoke and Virginia Beach history. Diane and Malcolm treasured their philanthropic associations and friendships with the Tidewater community.
Malcolm's vision and out-of-box thinking expanded his rental cap and gown business into a national souvenir cap and gown business. That company had its roots in an enterprise called Oak Hall, M. Rosenberg, and Sons started by Malcolm Rosenberg's grandfather in 1889.
His wife, Diane Rosenberg, recalled: "He decided to end the system where you rent out graduation gowns and then have to clean them up when they're returned. He developed the idea of souvenir caps and gowns that graduates kept. A lot of companies followed him."
Aside from his devotion to business, Rosenberg was a philanthropist whose favorite causes included Israel. He served on the Cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal and as president and chairman of the board of Beth Israel Synagogue. Malcolm was on the board of Hillel at Virginia Tech and endowed the Judaic Studies program at the university.
During the tragedy of April 16th, the Jewish community of the Virginia Tech campus came together for communal dinners every night. It was a way to deal with the trauma that we all had experienced. It was also a way to watch each student and learn what their needs were. Each dinner was attended by 60 to 150 students in the small lower level of the Blacksburg Jewish Community Center. To Malcolm, it was now more apparent than ever that the growing population of Jewish students needed a place to call their own.
On April 1st and right after the one year anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, noted philanthropist and Jewish activist, Edgar Bronfman, Hillel's International Chairman, visited the campus along with Wayne Firestone, Hillel International's Executive Director, to thank Diane Rosenberg for her gift and to announce another two hundred and fifty thousand dollar challenge grant ($250,000) through the Schusterman International Center.
The respected visitors met with students and administrators, including University President Charles Steger, and both came away impressed with the close-knit university culture and potential for future growth at Hillel at Virginia Tech.
The visit by Bronfman and Firestone also served to launch the official fundraising campaign for the Malcolm Rosenberg Hillel Center. During a lunchtime speech to an audience of over one hundred interested participants, Firestone announced two challenge grants designed to fuel fundraising to provide an attractive and spacious home for future generations of Virginia Tech Jewish students and to honor Malcolm and Diane Rosenberg. With nearly two million dollars ($2,000,000) already committed, included a generous gift from the Malcolm and Diane Rosenberg family, the high profile visit from International Hillel helped the project fundraisers feel optimistic about the ultimate success of the development effort.
Kurtz was thrilled by the interest and assistance that came from Hillel International. "Our goal was to begin construction in July of 2009 and to open in time for the fall semester in 2010. We wouldn't have been able to accomplish this timeframe without the assistance of Diane Rosenberg and our friends at Hillel International. With their help, we cut the ribbon on a facility that will provide for their children for generations to come as well as serve the vision of Malcolm Rosenberg."