Jewish Federation of Greater Naples celebrates one-year anniversary of Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center
New center emerges as a hub of Jewish communal life in Southwest Florida
NAPLES, Fla. (Jan. 8, 2024) – From daily gatherings and seasonal galas to an historic rally in solidarity with Israel, it’s been a year to remember at the Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center.
The 20,000-square-foot, two-story cultural center on Pine Ridge Road opened in January 2023, the culmination of a years-long project to replace the Federation’s previous home — rented office space in a strip mall above a fast-food sandwich shop, with little room for public gatherings.
“Day after day, the Iser Jewish Cultural Center is home to a tapestry of interest groups, affinity clubs and organizations from our vibrant, robust and growing community,” said Jeffrey Feld, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples. “This historic investment in our future is a testament to both the community need and its overwhelming support.”
Community donations financed construction of the building, raising more than $13 million to cover not just the $11 million in construction costs but also creation of an operational endowment.
Community members Steve Iser and his wife, Nina, were already donors to the building when Nina passed away unexpectedly; her husband then gave a lead donation to have the building named in her honor.
While oriented for the Jewish community, the center is also open to the public, with regular cultural offerings such as book and film festivals, guest lectures and more.
An overflow crowd packed the center for a community solidarity rally in the early October aftermath of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, setting off a war that continues. Other recent events included a high-level security briefing by an Israeli diplomat as well as a new local partnership between Christians and Jews united in the fight against antisemitism.
The Iser Center was designed by architect James Knafo, with construction by DeAngelis Diamond and interior design by Wegman Design Group. That interior design work was recently recognized for excellence by the Lee Building Industry Association.
Jerusalem stone symbolizing the Western Wall is featured in several places, and 12 soaring Royal Palm trees near the entrance represent the 12 tribes of Israel. The courtyard features a special Chanukiah created by artist David Hess from Baltimore.
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. 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.
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