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Michael Steinhardt, W'60, speaks during the the dedication of Steinhardt Hall. The dedication of Steinhardt, the new home of hillel on Penn's campus, was thursday afternoon. Credit: Ryan Jones , Ryan Jones

Mazel tov, Hillel! Steinhardt Hall, home of Penn Hillel, celebrated its 13th year on campus in style on Saturday in traditional Jewish fashion — with a bar mitzvah.

The celebration featured a kosher spread, open bar — for students and staff over 21 years old — a dance floor, a throwback playlist and bar mitzvah games like “Coke and Pepsi.”

“I hope other students see that Hillel is a place where more diverse events happen,” said Hillel social chair and College junior Michael Mitzner. “People can come and have fun that’s not fraternity- or sorority- or downtown-related.”

For many, the bar mitzvah was a walk down memory lane.

“We’re reliving old childhood memories, the halcyon days of my youth,” College sophomore Talia Beck said .

The construction of Steinhardt began in 2001 and was completed in 2003. The building has since offered a kosher dining hall and has been the meeting place for 25 different Jewish student groups. For many Jewish students on campus, however, Hillel — an independent Jewish organization on campus — offers more than just kosher food and religious support. It is a second home and a close-knit community.

“Of course the religious observance aspects are important and it’s good to have a place to keep kosher and Shabbat, but it’s even better because I’m doing it among friends,” Beck said.

College senior Gregory Segal echoed Beck’s sentiments. “Hillel is home. It’s a place where I can come back to when classes get crazy, a place where my friends are.”

Mitzner, who planned the event, said that throwing the bar mitzvah was like a personal thank you to the building and all that it offers to the Jewish community on campus. “I came to college with a much different view of Jewish life and it’s been expanded in so many great ways through Hillel, and I’m incredibly thankful.”

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