A Foundation Amid the High-Rises

Penn State Hillel is growing into its new home in downtown State College.

photo of Hillel building in downtown State College by Nick Sloff '92 A&A


If you’ve visited State College lately, you’ve noticed that a bumper crop of high-rise apartments has sprouted near campus. Even for those of us who live here, it can be hard to keep up with all the downtown construction projects, let alone tell them apart. But something about the 12-story (or 13-story, depending on where you stand) structure at the corner of Beaver and Garner stands out.

It’s there, at the base of The Maxxen apartment building, that Penn State Hillel has found a new home. Formally opened in fall 2022, the Gutterman Family Center for Jewish Life allowed the university’s local Hillel to expand from its shared space in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on campus, vital for an organization that serves roughly 5,000 students. From its inception, the building project—which, given Garner Street’s downhill slope toward campus, means the structure is technically 12 stories tall at Beaver Avenue but 13 at Calder Way—included a designated space for Hillel’s future home.

I had the chance recently to tour the center with Stefanie Tapper ’10 Sci, Penn State Hillel’s advancement director. The 15,000-square-foot facility was designed with students in mind: There’s ample room for group study, nooks for distraction-free focus, and cozy spaces with a living-room feel. There’s also a kosher kitchen and rooms to host Shabbat services, with dinner served each Friday evening at no charge to students.

Jewish students have long had a proud presence at the university, a legacy that was vital to the center’s creation. Developer Gary Brandeis ’88 Bus played a lead role in the process, as did Elliott Weinstein ’73, ’74 MS Bus, Penn State Hillel’s board chair emeritus and a lead volunteer for the university’s Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education Initiative. Much of the foundation was laid by Inge Marcus, who with her late husband, Harold Marcus ’49 Eng, established the Penn State Hillel Enrichment Fund in 2004, and by Nancy Alperin Gutterman ’52 Lib and her late husband, Bernard Gutterman ’51, ’53 MS, ’58 PhD Eng. Their dedication helped create a space where, as former student board member Emily Rosen ’23 Edu said at the center’s ribbon-cutting, “when you walk through the doors, you are no longer a stranger—you are in a place where you belong.”


handwritten signature of Ryan Jones editor




Ryan Jones '95 Com, Editor