HARTFORD, CT, May 7, 2012 – With a grand flourish and a pair of oversized scissors, a group of administrators, faculty, students and alumni leaders cut a large ribbon in the Mather Dining Hall on May 3, marking the formal dedication of the Kassow Hillel Kosher Eatery at Trinity, a place where Jewish students as well as students of all faiths can dine on kosher food for the first time in the 189-year history of the College.
The culinary addition to the Dining Hall was made possible by gifts totaling $125,000 from individuals and organizations, including the Zachs family, the Samuel Roskin Trust at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and the law firm of Rogan Nassau LLC in Hartford. The eatery is named in honor of two distinguished members of the Trinity community: Lisa Pleskow Kassow, director of Trinity College Hillel, and Samuel D. Kassow ’66, Charles H. Northam Professor of History.
Given the challenging layout and logistics of the Dining Hall, the design and installation of the kitchen presented many challenges. Indeed, in kicking off the proceedings, Trinity President James F. Jones, Jr., wearing a skullcap called a yarmulke, half-jokingly said it was “an event I honestly never thought was going to occur,” but one that he was thrilled to be a part of.
Jones attributed its completion to the “affirmation of Henry Zachs’ lifetime love affair with Trinity” and to the “enormous contributions of Sam and Lisa Kassow.” Jones noted that the kosher eatery was meant to create a welcoming and nurturing environment for Trinity’s Jewish students, and a place where students of all religions “could sit down and exchange ideas.”
Zachs ’56, who has also contributed money to other facilities on campus and whose name adorns the Hillel House, said Trinity has played a central role in the lives of Zachs family members since 1918 when his uncle graduated as valedictorian of his class. Henry Zachs is a former trustee and a member of the Watkinson Library Board.
Zachs was followed to the podium by Abby M. Himmelrich ’12, a member of the Hillel Executive Board, who said the kosher eatery would be much appreciated by Jewish students who keep kosher, many of whom have been forced to adhere to vegetarian diets during their stay at Trinity.
Lisa Kassow thanked Jones for his support of the project, noting that she has worked with five College presidents to make the kosher eatery a reality. “The only reason that we’re here today is because this one president stepped up to the plate…and made it possible.” Kassow thanked a number of other people, not the least of which was Toby Chenette, resident district manager of Chartwells Dining Services, whom she called “open-minded, kind, unflappable and unfailingly polite.” Two others Kassow singled out for appreciation were Chef Robert Kalmer (“who makes a fabulous chicken salad”) and Zachs, whose gift to the College “resonates beyond this room” and will “affect generations to come.”
The blessing over the Kassow Hillel Kosher Eatery was given by Rabbi Yitzchok Adler of Beth David Synagogue in West Hartford. The eatery is supervised by the Hartford Kashrut Commission.
Following the ribbon cutting, the speeches and the blessing, those in attendance dined on fresh spinach salad with Bosc pears, cranberries and toasted almonds; lemon chicken; quinoa timbale, steamed asparagus and baby carrots; and a trio of sorbet.
The eatery is open during the academic year, although it is closed on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The operating hours are Mondays through Thursdays from noon to 1:30 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and on Friday from noon to 1:30 p.m.
For more information about Hillel and Jewish life at Trinity, please visit the Hillel Web site: Trinity College Hillel
Click here to view more photos from this event.