A successful nationwide fundraising drive has enabled the country's first Muslim liberal arts college to buy a permanent home in Berkeley's "holy hill" neighborhood.
Zaytuna College will begin renovating a 22,000-square-foot, red brick building on LeConte Avenue currently occupied by Unity Church on June 3. Saturday, church members put books, lamps, furniture and other items out for sale to lighten their move to new quarters on Prince Street.
For the coming year, Unity will share space with Chochmat HaLev, a Jewish Renewal congregation.
"It's a good fit for us, because we are very inclusive, and they are very inclusive," said congregant Gina Papen.
Its leaders say Zaytuna will benefit from its close proximity to the multi-seminary Graduate Theological Union and the opportunity it affords for interfaith engagement in a rigorous intellectual setting.
Its "brick by brick" campaign set a goal of $19 million, with fundraising events in Chicago, Houston, San Jose, Orlando, Fla. and other cities. It has earmarked $2.1 million for renovation of the building, designed by Bay Area architect Walter Ratcliff Jr. It will encompass a lecture hall, library, prayer room, computer lab, and classrooms.
When Chochmat HaLev bought a former Baptist church in 2000, the popular synagogue moved from a crowded 1,200-square-foot corner site on Eighth Street to the 8,000-square-foot spread it now occupies.