In 1984, Hillel formed an ad hoc committee to study Jewish life on campus. The report urged the creation of a single space for kosher kitchens, offices, and areas for socializing and worship. It became clear that Princeton needed a Jewish center, uniting Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox groups into one central location. With support from President William G. Bowen, the University launched a major planning and fundraising initiative. For over a year a group of students met, and together with Hillel director Rabbi Edward Feld, the Dean of the Chapel and the Associate Provost, and in consultation with members of the faculty and Hillel's Board of Directors, they drew up a plan for a new Jewish center.
The CJL project was approved in 1988-89 and a location selected. The 17,000 square foot building was designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern at a cost of $4.85 million. In February 1993, the CJL opened at 70 Washington Road, the site of the old Prospect Club. The CJL was formally dedicated in the spring of 1994.
The CJL was built to accommodate the social, educational, religious, and dietary needs of Princeton’s Jewish community. The CJL is operated as a partnership between Princeton University and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
About Architect Robert A.M. Stern
Architect Robert A.M. Stern was chosen and asked to design a Jewish center that was not an office building, but a home. Robert A.M. Stern is the founder and senior partner of Robert A.M. Stern Architects; he is also a practicing architect, teacher, and writer. Mr. Stern is Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, and was previously Professor of Architecture and Director of the Historic Preservation Program at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University. Mr. Stern has lectured extensively in the United States and abroad on both historical and contemporary topics in architecture, and is the author of several books.