Jewish Conservancy Opens Visitor Center at 400 Grand Street

This past Friday morning, the LES Jewish Conservancy had lots of help from its friends in celebrating the grand opening of the Kling & Niman Family Visitor Center at 400 Grand Street.  The storefront gives the organization a visible presence in the heart of the Lower East Side — a “brick and mortar” launching pad for neighborhood walking tours and a venue for events and education about the neighborhood’s rich legacy. 

The Conservancy was created more than a decade ago by the United Jewish Council of the East Side to protect endangered synagogues and other historic sites. UJC Executive Director Joel Kaplan introduced many speakers, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Beth Israel Hospital President Harris Nagler.

Many other organizations were represented, such as: the LES Business Improvement District, Community Board 3, Gouverneur Hospital, the Tenement Museum and the 7th Precinct.

UJC Executive Director Joel Kaplan, Speaker Sheldon Silver, Borough President Scott Stringer, Senator Daniel Squadron, Conservancy Director Laurie Tobias Cohen.

The Visitor Center is in the former home of Ruby’s Fruits, a Lower East Side institution. 400 Grand Street is a city-owned building that one day (perhaps five or six years from now) could be demolished to make room for new development on the SPURA Urban Renewal site. The Conservancy raised about $100,000 to renovate the space, which had gone untouched for many years.

Michael Pertain, the facility’s principal donor, was on hand for Friday’s celebration. His family’s story is told through informational exhibits inside the center.  Following a ribbon cutting, a mezuzah was affixed to the doorway and the Visitor Center was open for business.

Laurie Tobias Cohen, the Conservancy’s executive director, said the center will allow her organization to further strengthen its ties to the local community, as well as provide a conspicuous meeting place for tourists coming to explore the neighborhood. You can find out more about the Jewish Conservancy by visiting their web site.

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  • http://twitter.com/learmonth Michael Learmonth

    This is great but wouldn’t it be even better to save/rehab the awesome synagogue on Norfolk for this purpose?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beth_Hamedrash_Hagadol

  • Ed

    Interesting suggestion! The Conservancy wants to do just that. They got a research grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to explore the possibilities. Then the economy collapsed (you know the rest of the story). maybe one day,,,