University News

Judaic studies building renamed for Hirschfeld

Elie Hirschfeld ’71 P’06 P’16 P’20, wife donate $3.5 million for renovation, maintenance

By
contributing Writer
Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Renovations to Hirschfeld House will make the building accessible for those with mobility needs. Teaching and office spaces will also be expanded.

Following a $3.5 million pledge by Elie Hirschfeld ’71 P’06 P’16 P’20 and his wife Sarah Hirschfeld for its renovation and maintenance, the Judaic Studies Building at 163 George Street has been renamed Hirschfeld House.

The 108-year-old building is in need of renovation and expansion for office and teaching space, wrote Saul Olyan, director of Judaic studies and professor of Judaic studies and religious studies, in an email to The Herald.

“One of the things we most want is for our building to be accessible to all,” Olyan wrote. “Even the ground floor is not (currently) accessible for … (those) with mobility needs.”

The donation will come in two parts. A $1 million pledge paid over the next few years will fund Hirschfeld House’s initial renovation, wrote Donald Hasseltine, vice president for development of the Brown Alumni Association, in an email to The Herald. The remaining $2.5 million gift, which Brown will receive after Hirschfeld’s death, will create an endowed fund to maintain the building, Hasseltine added.

This donation will not directly fund programming and scholarly work, Hasseltine wrote.

“I am giving the gift first because I love Brown,” Hirschfeld said. “Secondarily, it’s (because of) my love for Judaic studies.”

Prior to this donation, Hirschfeld had already donated over $1 million to Brown, contributing to the Brown Annual Fund and funding a visiting scholar fellowship for Judaic studies.

During his time at Brown, Hirschfeld concentrated in  math and economics and also completed a minor in religious studies. “It was very meaningful for me to understand that there’s dialogue between the faiths” of Christianity and Judaism, Hirschfeld said. “The (Jewish) background I grew up in has certain beliefs that (are) different than the Christian world. And so (Brown) exposed me to that,” he added.

Hirschfeld is a trustee emeritus at Brown and the president of Hirschfeld Properties in New York City.