The Office of Jewish Student Life and the student-run Hillel Society, both of which operate out of the Jewish Student Center (JSC) at Lehigh, offer students opportunities for leadership, cooperation and creative expression by encouraging new friendships and Jewish values.
A recent leadership gift made by Linda Kagan Horowitz ’86 ’18P ’19PG ’21P and Seth Horowitz ’18P ’19PG ’21P supports the organization’s mission through the hiring of a full-time engagement and programming associate and student peer engagement and programming staff, in addition to adding to the programming endowment fund that they had previously established. Lehigh’s Chaplain’s Office, Disability Support Services and the Parents’ Fund will also benefit from their gift.
“Campus diversity is important for students, and Judaism is certainly part of that. But for Jewish students, it’s also very important for them to have the ability to celebrate their culture,” said Linda. “The JSC is a place for them to do that, to attend religious events—and, of course, enjoy a lot of food! We want them to have a place to hang out, relax and be themselves.”
“It’s a place to come and to explore Judaism, even for people who aren’t Jewish, or those who didn’t grow up in a household that engaged with Judaism but who might have some Jewish lineage and want to explore that," said Seth. "The center is for anyone who’s interested and curious about Judaism.”
Rabbi Steven Nathan, endowed director of Jewish Student Life and associate chaplain of the university, says he has seen unprecedented growth and change since he came to Lehigh in 2017. The center itself moved from the former building on Summit Street–opened when Linda was a student in 1982—to its current home on West Packer Avenue, which was recently renovated and will be dedicated on Oct. 16. Student peer engagement staff has grown from three people in 2018 to 11 in the current academic year.
“Growth requires support—in this case, from Jewish Student Life and the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity,” Nathan said. “However, none of it would have happened without the financial and moral support of Linda Horowitz. She was always available as a sounding board when I had a new idea. If she knew that funds were needed for a certain effort or program, she was always generous. Could this growth have taken place without Linda's support? Perhaps. But it would probably still be a decade down the road. We hope others will join Linda and Seth to continue Jewish Student Life’s progress.”
Investing in Lehigh and entrusting their two children to the university seemed natural to both Linda and Seth.
“Linda is the alum, but, as a parent, I can say that both our sons were able to achieve and excel at Lehigh, even though they’re very different people with very different interests—in academics and extracurriculars,” Seth said.
Linda hopes students find in Hillel and the JSC what her sons found during their time at Lehigh: “a home-away-from-home -- not just a place to go for Friday night services, but a welcoming atmosphere every day of the week with food, games, dialogue with the rabbi, study spaces—a warm, friendly place to be, like Lehigh.”
As part of Founder’s Weekend, on Oct. 16 at 11 a.m. all are invited to join the Lehigh community for a dedication of the new Jewish Student Center building and 40th anniversary celebration of the opening of the first Hillel house.
Story by Cynthia Tintorri