Home, sweet home. The process that began on Jan. 15, 1994, when the Northridge earthquake damaged the original 6505 Wilshire headquarters of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, came to a happy end last Monday, Sept. 11, as Federation staff moved back into a completely remodeled and upgraded headquarters. Two years and $20 million later, the brand-new 6505 has opened its doors, to the mass approval of Federation executives and staffers.
Federation Executive Vice President Jack Klein credits Cyndie Ayala, director of administrative services, and Rodney Freeman, chairman of the building committee, for bringing the Goldsmith Center- Jewish Federation's completion on time with minor setbacks. Promises Klein, "Everyone will be in by High Holidays."(A community-wide grand opening reception is slated for Dec. 10. )
Staffers working in the communications, accounting, policy planning and other departments spent the week cozying up to their new offices and cubicles, with Federation beneficiary agencies to follow next week.With her Koosh ball and a festive orange flower pot on her desk, Alesia Massingale, administrative assistant to Jack Klein, appeared to be already settled in.
"It's a great idea they had to have a multilevel lunch so that everyone can see the new space," said Massingale.
Sara Kocher, Web site coordinator, welcomes the new building's state-of-the-art computer facilities, which will make revamping the Federation's Web site (www.jewishla.org ) a lot easier.
"The old building was not as bright and open. The workspace here is terrific," said Kocher.
John Magoulas, college and teen coordinator for Israel experience, community and development department, also loves the new digs: "It's phenomenal! Very worker friendly. This is a great environment that they provided for us. I'm thrilled."
The Federation will now go about raising an outstanding $4 million in construction costs. Named for the family of lead donors, Bram and Elaine Gold-smith, whose gift of $5 million kicked off the reconstruction campaign, the 130,000-square-foot Goldsmith Center-Jewish Federation replaces the previous 107,000-square-foot headquar-ters, which the Federation had occupied since 1975. It houses Zimmer Discovery Children's Museum of Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles, an exhibition gallery, and the Slavin Family Children's Library on its first floor. The building's capital campaign was chaired by past Federation presidents Lionel Bell and Edward Sanders.
Klein considers the glossy "new" building a powerful symbol of what L.A.'s Jewish community has to offer and look forward to.
"We want people to feel that this is a community home that everyone can be proud of," said Klein, beaming. "It's a place we feel proud to call home."