The Jewish Religious Center (JRC) is home to the Williams College Jewish Association and Jewish life on campus. The JRC is located on Stetson Court, behind the Admissions Office.
The JRC is a place for the Williams College Jewish Association at Williams College to come together for religious observances and social events. This building of unique architecture serves as temple, meeting hall, library, and kitchen. Although we welcome members of the greater community to our services and events, the Jewish Religious Center is a space designed to serve the needs of Jewish students at Williams College.
The building, designed by Newman Architects, is unique in its own right. Newman Architects describes the building as follows: “The Center is itself a house, a setting for activities that are religious, scholarly and familial. We wanted the students who used the Center to feel at home in their heritage – as a place of identity, a place from which to draw strength and to find support. We also wanted the building itself to look at home, even as it expressed its religious, academic and community purpose. And fundamentally, we wanted the building to convey the spirit of the Jewish experience.”
“I consider this Jewish religious building an outward sign of the inward grace that infuses our community; the grace of openness, reconciliation, mutual respect, and appreciation of the richness that our mutually various heritages bring to all of us.”
– Francis Oakley, President emeritus, Williams College
Features of the JRC
- Sanctuary: Within the building, there is a sanctuary for religious prayer. The sanctuary is an intimate setting for Shabbat services but can welcome a larger crowd for the High Holy Days. The sanctuary sits in the center of the JRC.
- Library: Lining the walls of the JRC, there are hundreds of books available for anybody to peruse. The Jewish Religious Center Library has over 600 volumes and periodicals spanning all topics of interest to Jewish life. This includes a full set of Talmud, Shulchan Aruch, and various other biblical commentaries and reference sources.
- Lounge and Dining Room: The heart of the JRC is the lounge and dining room. This area is brought to life Friday nights when approximately a hundred students regardless of religion join for Shabbat dinner. The lounge is also open 24-7 for study and use for religious needs.
- Kitchen: The JRC kitchen is strictly kosher, under the supervision of the Jewish Chaplain. Students use the kitchen to prepare weekly Shabbat dinners and lunches, as well as other meals during the year. Challa baking, hamentaschen baking, and just plain fun happen in our kitchen. During Passover, our kitchen is made kosher-for-Passover. Students are welcome to prepare all their meals during the holiday at the JRC.