The Caspe Terrace, located in Waukee, is the facility which is the focal point for many happenings within the Jewish Community. It is a facility that is welcoming to all. The programs cover a broad spectrum from holiday and school activities to musical events and lectures. It is a retreat for youth and adults and has offered athletic activities, cooking classes, pottery painting classes and has facilities for bridge and mahjong. It is the perfect setting for meetings, dinners or life cycle events such as Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties, weddings, and anniversary events. There is something for everyone.
Bringing a Vision to Life
The vision of The Caspe Terrace as the gathering place for our community was initiated by several major supporters of the Jewish Federation, including Lew and Neecy Caspe and Morton and Lois Bookey, in early 1999. The task was to find ten acres of land to accommodate what was then Camp Shalom, located at the time on land adjacent to Dowling High School in West Des Moines. The vision was for a larger tract of land that could also accommodate an indoor facility.
When the task of finding a parcel in West Des Moines seemed impossible, with the help of John Mandelbaum and Mort Bookey, Lew Caspe purchased a 100-year farm parcel of 47 acres in Waukee, Iowa for the Jewish Foundation. Mort and Lois Bookey then funded the initial structure that was to serve as a multi-purpose dining hall on the upper level, leaving the lower level available for the camp’s use. This became known as Bookey Lodge.
As enthusiasm for The Caspe Terrace grew, other community members came forward with interest in supporting additional structures attached to the Bookey Lodge. Naum Staroselsky funded a wing on the north side of the Bookey Lodge in memory of his first wife, Ksenia. This wing was built as a meeting place for the Russian Jewish community at a time when there was a great influx of Russian families to Des Moines. The wing became known as Staroselsky Clubhouse.
Melva and Martin Bucksbaum Arts Wing
Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan generously funded the Melva and Martin Bucksbaum Arts Wing on the south side of the building in memory of her parents, Melva and Martin Bucksbaum. The wing houses a state-of-the-art theater on the main level that holds 150 people and on the lower level, The Caspe Heritage Gallery of the Iowa Jewish Historical Society. Having a permanent home for its numerous artifacts, the Jewish Historical Society was able to expand its collection and to relocate from the Harmon Fine Arts Building at Drake University, where they had been housed for years. Mary’s gift not only built this beautiful facility, but also endowed the building and allowed money for programming.
Growing Community Support
As momentum grew, more and more individuals continued to support our vision.
The Tim and Toni Urban Activity Room and the Lou and Marilyn Hurwitz Arts and Crafts Room became an integral part of the lower level of the Bookey Lodge as Camp Shalom facilities.
Don and Margo Blumenthal funded the kosher kitchen and the Bookey family funded the catering kitchen.
Abe Clayman provided a fund to assist in building the athletic fields and for athletic programming.
Stan and Gail Richards erected the Alex Richards Pavilion.
Alvin and Dorothy Kirsner funded the Kirsner Playground.
Under the supervision of Tim Urban and many other volunteer committees, construction of The Caspe Terrace was completed in the spring of 2001. Community members continued to come forward to help with landscaping, programming, and special needs.
Integral to the success of The Caspe Terrace was a request made to donors by the Director of the Federation, Elaine Steinger, that all capital contributions to the facility be matched by endowment money for future maintenance, repairs and in some cases, programming. The endowment for The Caspe Terrace has secured its financial survival for future generations.
A Focus on Education
After Camp Shalom was moved to The Caspe Terrace, Larry and Suzanne Engman endowed Camp Shalom, and it became Engman Camp Shalom. The camp continues to thrive each summer with current enrollment at over 60 campers.
Spearheaded in 2010 by Sheldon and Beth Ohringer, Steven and Julie Goldstein, and Krista and Brian Pearl, fundraising efforts began for a school wing at The Caspe Terrace was completed in 2012. The school wing is home to the Federation’s preschool, Gan Shalom, which attracted 16 students in its first year, and Beit Sefer Shalom, the community religious school with current enrollment at 124.
The religious school classes had previously been held on a rotating basis at the synagogues. Stanley and Gail Richards, with the assistance of many other community members, recently funded a playground for the preschool and plans are underway for several new additions, including a basketball court, community garden, and additional equipment for the Kirschner Playground.
The Jewish Federation Offices also moved from Polk Boulevard in Des Moines to The Caspe Terrace. The Federation oversees the activities of the school, camp, and the programming at The Caspe Terrace as well as many other community programs.
Programming at The Caspe Terrace shall continue to bring the community together and L’dor va’dor ~ it shall be enjoyed as a facility for generations to come.