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New Israel-Themed Playground at Chabad of PW

Grand opening of Florence’s Mini-Israel takes place on April 14

With the vision in mind, Rabbi Shalom and Sara Paltiel began to create a new Disney-like, Israel-themed, 1,800 square foot playground and cultural recreation center at Chabad of Port Washington. The new installment includes a recreational area with access to instruments, a puppet theater, a faux-marketplace, a costume area, a replica of ancient ruins, a live streaming feed of a bustling center in Israel, a camel, and a tree. This interactive play space offers children the opportunity to become immersed into another world while being able to enhance their vibrant imaginations with the toys and environment.

This new playground, dubbed Florence’s Mini-Israel in memory of Florence Brownstein, had its VIP showing and ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, Mar. 4. The area was filled with laughter, food, excited children, and even a guitar player. During the ceremony, Rabbi Paltiel said, “This playground will prove to be an asset to this community and Port Washington as a whole.”

Sara Paltiel, executive director at Chabad and director of the Florence Brownstein Preschool, said, “We live in a global village in which the new currency is awareness, sensitivity and relationship to the entire international community. We’re creating a gateway to Israel that will not only educate, but inspire and excite children and adults many of whom would otherwise never have any firsthand connection to the contributions and significance of Israel.” She added, “We look forward to hosting community and school groups, religious groups, private events, visiting dignitaries and others.”

This writer had the opportunity to take an informal tour with two of the center’s primary architects. Husband and wife team, Greg Gallimore and Suwalee Kochawat of Cloudberry Studio Designs, spoke of how the project came to fruition. It took approximately one year and three months to complete the build. After working through three different versions of the play place, they chose a piece that would fully encompass a playground to benefit preschoolers at Chabad and the summer camp with an indoor realm, protected from the weather, that would provide energetic children with a place to interact and play.

Gallimore and Kochawat had a hands-on approach to designing the area. Kochawat even went so far as to paint some of the fruits that can be found in the mini-market place. They were very pleased with the finished project and are planning on constructing an outdoor, nautical-themed playground for Chabad in the next six to nine months.

The attendees were extremely impressed with the new addition. “A definite wow!” said Marcy Shurka. “They have paid such attention to detail. Look at this! They replicate the water damage and cracks with paint; it’s just so magnificent. It feels like I’m in a real Israeli market,” said Tami Galazan.

“My favorite part is the ruins and the puppet theater. I give it a 10 out of 10!” said Jonah Nissan (age 6). His older brother, Jacob Nissan (age 8) was extremely pleased with the new installment but had slight criticisms about the length and height of the slide saying, “I give it a 98 percent out of 100.”

Chabad of Port Washington is located at 80 Shore Road and the General Grand Opening will take place after Passover Dinner on April 14. They can be reached at 767-8672.