Students enjoy Shabbat dinner

On Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, shortly before the start of Shabbat dinner, a furnace fire occurred in MSU Hillel’s basement. The building was safely evacuated with no injuries.

The East Lansing Fire Department extinguished the fire, which was contained to one of nine furnaces. Unfortunately, the smoke damage was severe and the building required extensive restoration work, including the replacement of seven of the nine furnaces, painting of the entire lower level, replacement of carpeting and ceiling tiles, and much more.

The outside of the MSU Hillel building

Working in coordination with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and Belfor, the restoration work was completed and the building re-opened on Jan. 9.

“Luckily, it happened mostly during winter break,” said Robyn Hughey, MSU Hillel associate director. “We were closed during the last two weeks of school, yet we had on-campus programming to accommodate students during what would have been our typical ‘finals frenzy’ week.

“Additionally, we rented an exclusive space in the MSU Union for our students to study in during finals week. And our staff worked from home for the entire duration of the restoration work.”

Students enjoy Shabbat dinner

A GoFundMe page has been created to help offset the $10,000 insurance deductible for recovery costs. About $6,000 has been raised so far, Hughey said. Donations are still being accepted via or at

“All donations will go directly toward the restoration costs and are greatly appreciated as we get through this challenging time,” Hughey said.