A new social hall was filled with guests overflowing onto the covered patio and lawn for the grand opening Jan. 15 of the Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center at 4720 Pine Ridge Rd. in Naples. The 20,000-square-foot, two-story center built by the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples was celebrated as a gathering place for the greater Naples Jewish community, which is estimated at more than 10,000 individuals.
“We want people to be able to create a cultural center where we could all come together,” said Jeffrey Feld, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples. “By bringing the community together, we can enjoy leisure time, recreation, socialization, informal education and cultural activities for people of all ages. Although we are oriented for the Jewish community, we are open to the entire community, and we try to incorporate everybody into everything that we do.”
The day of celebration started with a Founder’s luncheon for the more than 50 donors who contributed more than $100,000 to the building or the Annual Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples. The first of two ribbon cuttings to mark the opening was held following the luncheon.
A public celebration included remarks by Nina Iser’s husband, Steve, who gave a lead donation to have the building named after Nina.
“This is an amazing achievement that was brought about by hard work and dedication by many people,” Iser said. “Although we would prefer that she (Nina) be here today, we know she is in our hearts and would be so proud of this achievement.”
A public ribbon cutting followed and kicked off tours of the building for members and the public.
The goal of the building, designed by architect James Knafo and interior design by Wegman Design Group, was to create multi-purpose, functional space that would allow multiple activities to happen simultaneously enhanced by state-of-the-art technology and security, with a badge entry system. DeAngelis Diamond was the builder.
Before the center was built, the Federation occupied rented office space, and other facilities had to be rented for the Federation’s numerous activities. Planning to build a center started in early 2018. Finding the location took 12 months, with more than 40 sites considered. Rezoning and permitting for the property took about two years. Construction began after a groundbreaking in November 2021.
Jerusalem stone symbolizing the Western Wall is featured in several places, and 12 soaring Royal Palm trees near the entrance representing the 12 tribes of Israel. In the courtyard, a special Chanukiah created by artist David Hess from Baltimore will be lit for Chanukah celebrations and be meaningful abstract art the rest of the year.
About Jewish Federation of Greater Naples
The Jewish Federation of Greater Naples is the thread that runs through the fabric of the Jewish Community, its organizations and services, connecting the Jewish community. The Federation supports programs for Jewish people and the entire community in need in the greater Naples area, Israel and throughout the world, providing food for the hungry and counseling for the troubled, spearheading rescue and relief efforts for isolated Jews in distressed regions, and funding innovative Jewish educational and unity initiatives. The Federation creates a sense of community for thousands of Jewish residents in Greater Naples and its surrounding areas by creating and supporting programs to further Jewish learning, identity, pride and culture. Federation meets the challenge of providing for the needs of our Jewish brethren, wherever they may be, from young children and families to seniors. For information, visit jewishnaples.org, call 239-263-4205 or email email@example.com.