NY’s UJA-Federation funds new arts education campus in downtown Jerusalem


(New York Jewish Week) — UJA-Federation of New York contributed more than $17.5 million to a new cultural campus in Jerusalem that opened Thursday.

The $50 million, 2.5-acre Jerusalem Campus for the Arts combines schools for theater, film, television and Middle Eastern classical music, plus performance spaces.

UJA announced its support for the project in 2017 as part of its centennial year celebration. Local donors included the Kirsh Foundation, Paulson Family Foundation, Amy A.B. and Robert I. Bressman, Robert R. and Sherry H. Wiener, and the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York.

“We are proud to be involved in the creation of this landmark cultural center in the heart of Jerusalem,” said Robert Wiener, chairman of the board of MAXX Properties, in a statement.

The campus fulfills a vision of former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Birkat, who wanted an arts campus to rival Tel Aviv’s Performing Arts Center and to attract young people to a city sometimes considered a somewhat staid cousin to Israel’s largest city. The campus, which connects Jerusalem’s downtown with the old residential neighborhood of Nahlaot, combines four of Jerusalem’s leading performing arts schools: The Sam Spiegel Film & Television School, The Center for Middle Eastern Classical Music, The Nissan Nativ Acting Studio and The School of Visual Theatre.

Nir was among the dignitaries at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday who included current Mayor Moshe Lion, the Wieners, UJA CEO Eric S. Goldstein and the project’s lead donor, Natie Kirsh, whose family controls the Jetro Holdings food supply business in College Point, Queens.

“Our shared vision for the Jerusalem Campus for the Arts is that it anchors a cultural and economic renaissance for the city — encouraging young, diverse families to settle in the area, revitalizing the city and promoting an inclusive society,” Goldstein said in a statement.