The Jewish Federation of Greater Naples will celebrate the grand opening of the Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center with a public celebration and tours on Jan. 15 beginning at 1 p.m. at 4720 Pine Ridge Rd. in Naples. The 20,000-square-foot, two-story center is designed to be a gathering place for the greater Naples Jewish community estimated at more than 10,000 individuals.
“Every part of it is incredible,” said Jeffrey Feld, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples. “The new cultural center will allow us to host multiple activities simultaneously in one building and serve as a home for a wide variety of events from celebrations to educational programs to women’s groups, men’s groups, youth events and more. Everyone will be able to be in person together in this new facility. It is an exciting and wonderful time.”
The community came together to finance construction of the building, raising more than $13 million so far of the $11 million for construction and creation of an operational endowment. Steve Iser and his wife, Nina, were already donors to the building when Nina passed away unexpectedly, and Steve gave a lead donation to have the building named after Nina.
“We couldn’t have done this without the generosity of our donors,” Mr. Feld said of the building, which was built next to Temple Shalom. Before the center was built, the Federation occupied rented office space, and other facilities had to be rented for the Federation’s numerous activities.
The dream grew out of the Federation board’s strategic plan in 2016. 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.
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.
Jerusalem stone symbolizing the Western Wall is featured in several places, and 12 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.