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Jewish Journal

From ‘Rubble to Renewal’

by Tom Tugend

September 4, 1997 | 8:00 pm

The centerpiece of BBI's reconstruction, the Arts and Conference Center, will be celebrated Sept. 14. With song, dance and prayers of thanksgiving, the Brandeis-Bardin Institute will celebrate the reconstruction of its Simi Valley campus on Sunday, Sept. 14. The community is invited to participate in the free event.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake inflicted some $11 million in damage at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI), and there was a real possibility that the innovative educational and cultural center would have to close down.

Following an intensive, three-year fund-raising campaign, augmented by government aid, BBI has moved from "rubble to renewal" and from "dream to reality," according to the invitation to the Sept. 14 event.

The centerpiece of BBI's reconstruction is the grand Arts and Conference Center, which encompasses the Wapner family main house and salon, the Gunther family dining center, the Lax family administrative center, the Dr. William and Leah Molle library, and a memorabilia room. Other new facilities include a dance plaza, sleeping cottages, a storage building and a sewer system.

This year also marks BBI's 50th anniversary at its present 3,100-acre rustic site. Best known for its Brandeis Collegiate Institute, which provides a month-long immersion into Jewish life for its 18- to 26-year-old participants, campus programs now range from kindergarten to Elderhostels.

Judge Joseph A. Wapner, the BBI president, will chair the day's events and will be assisted by executive vice president Dr. Alvin Mars. Speakers will include Herbert Gelfand, president of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, and Ventura County Supervisor Judy Mikels.

The occasion also will be marked by picnicking, Israeli dancing, swimming, ribbon cuttings, and tours of the facilities.

The general public is invited to the celebration, with gates opening at 9 a.m. The program starts promptly at 10 a.m. at the campus site, 1101 Peppertree Lane, Simi Valley. There is no admission fee, but advance reservations are requested by Sept. 8 to Kim Miller at (805) 582-4450. Visitors may bring their own picnic foods or order them in advance.

As its post-opening inaugural event, the Arts and Conference Center will host an exhibition on Oct. 19, in which 50 artists will display their original sukkah designs.

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