Jewish Federation of Greater Naples breaks ground for Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center
The Floridant/10155189

NAPLES, Fla. - Floridant -- Jewish Federation of Greater Naples celebrated the beginning of construction of the Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center with a ceremonial groundbreaking Friday, Nov. 19.

The 20,000-square-foot center is designed to be a gathering place for the greater Naples Jewish community estimated at more than 10,000 individuals. In the last five years, Jewish Federation of Greater Naples' two largest membership organizations, the Women's Cultural Alliance (WCA) and Men's Cultural Alliance (MCA), have grown by nearly 50% and the combined organizations now have close to 2,300 members.

The hour-long groundbreaking ceremony included prayers from four area rabbis, the traditional shoveling of dirt by dignitaries and acknowledgement of many people who helped make the project possible.

"I'm so appreciative of all the support, active engagement, assertive pushback when needed and always full commitment to our Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center," said Marc Saperstein, chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples building committee. "They, along with our many donors, key stakeholders and the entire Jewish community are why this project is coming to life."

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About 500 families have brought the center's fundraising commitment to $12.5 million of a $15 million goal, with $10.5 million to build and furnish the building, and a $4.5 million endowment to help offset increased operational expenses.

Steve Iser and his wife, Nina, were already donors to the building when she passed away unexpectedly. The building is named in her memory. Steve explained that when he and Nina moved to Naples about 12 years ago as a seasonal resident, they had difficulty meeting people and making friends, until they became involved with Jewish Federation.

"It wasn't until Nina got involved with the WCA that we started to meet a lot more people," he said. "Actually, we called Naples 'camp Naples' because there was so much to do. I am happy to be able to stand here. Next year we will have a new home. I know it will be used to its fullest."

"I am proud to partner with the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples to ensure the new campus provides a safe environment," said Florida House of Representatives Rep. Bob Rommel.

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The new Cultural Center is being built on the same campus as Temple Shalom, which agreed to lease the property next to its buildings to the Federation for 50 years.

"This marks a new chapter for the Jewish Community of Southwest Florida," said Daryl Sissman, president of Temple Shalom. "We look forward to having the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples as our neighbors and all the synergies that will emerge."

The center will be the centerpiece of contemporary Jewish life in Greater Naples, enhancing the Jewish community's sense of pride and identity for generations to come.

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Source: Jewish Federation of Greater Naples
Filed Under: Construction

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