Shalem College
January 28, 2020

A Home for Ideals and an Ideal Home: Shalem Completes Construction on New College Building


In the light-filled first-floor lounge, a few are cocooned in chair swings with books, while others spread out with laptops on oversized sofas. A group of four sit deep in discussion, sipping coffee around a long work table, while still another plays a solo on the piano by the wall. No, it’s not a tech hub, though the sense of innovation and purpose is palpable; here, the ideas exchanged are more likely about Aristotle than they are about AI. The vintage wall mural of a bustling 1950s Tel Aviv street-café scene gives it away: This is the newly renovated Shalem College building, and a testament to its dedication to creating a vibrant, engaging learning community in the service of Israel.

“When we undertook this renovation project, we sought to build a space that would reflect Shalem’s values: serious study, community, and a commitment to the world beyond the classroom,” explains Senior Vice President Seth Goldstein, who, together with Vice President of Operations Avishag Bar-Tal, oversaw the multi-year construction project. “The blurring of the lines between ‘study space’ and ‘communal space’ is deliberate, as is the integration of classical Jerusalem architecture and modern, industrial touches. The building,” concludes Goldstein, “reflects the ethos of the project it houses.”

The new college building, which has now been doubled in size, boasts two new floors, an expanded library, six seminar rooms, an 80-seat lecture hall, a student gym, and a brand new student lounge. There is also a new writing center, a center for Shalem’s innovative program in Arabic, and—according to many students, their favorite part—panoramic views of Jerusalem from the third and fourth floors.

“Those views aren’t just breathtaking—although they are,” says Goldstein. ”They’re a reminder that Shalem is meant to be both a place set apart from the world, in which students can spend time doing intense learning and thinking and growing, as well as a place very much of that world, in particular the Jewish state. Our students know they are expected to play a critical role in shaping the city and the country they see from their seminar-room windows.”

With the sounds of students filling halls between classes in the background, Bar-Tal adds that there is a deep sense of satisfaction in having designed a building that can serve as a real home for the college. “There was a sense before that Shalem College was making the building work for it, but that it wasn’t really its own. It didn’t embody what makes Shalem so unique. Now,” she concludes, “the building reflects Shalem’s goals and gives expression to its ideals. It’s truly a fitting home for those who dwell in it.”