For arts sake &mdash and so much more &mdash its time to celebrate

The Contemporary Jewish Museum opening is cause for celebration.

It’s a day so long in coming — nearly a decade — it seemed it would never arrive. But this Sunday, June 8, the magnificent new museum in San Francisco opens its doors to the public.

We happily predict those doors will never close.

The $47.5 million, 63,000-square-foot showplace will instantly become one of the crown jewels of Bay Area art and architecture.

Architect Daniel Libeskind’s design, with its refurbishing of the 1907 Jessie Street Substation and its bright blue diamond-shaped “Yud” Gallery, could not be any more spectacular.

The inaugural exhibitions are well chosen and immensely challenging in scope. In particular, “In the Beginning: Artists Respond to Genesis” and the Aleph-Bet Sound Project (both of which are the subjects of stories in this week’s supplement) offer visitors bold visions of Jewish art and music today.

We are also excited about the museum’s commitment to youth. Interactive family tours, Sunday Art Making, teaching fellowships and the Teen Art Connect internship all point to a facility dedicated to education.

Also part of the opening weekend festivities: the all-night party DAWN ’08, a cultural arts festival celebrating music, dance and multimedia art. This event proved such a draw to young adults that advance tickets are sold out.

A few words of praise are due those who brought the Contemporary Jewish Museum to life. Major donors, allies at key city agencies and committees, museum staffers and supporters throughout the Bay Area Jewish community made this day happen, and deserve thanks.

But a special debt of gratitude is owed to museum Director and CEO Connie Wolf. Over the years, the fortunes of the Contemporary Jewish Museum waxed and waned. During the darker times, it was hard for some to picture the museum ever crossing the finish line. Wolf, however, never wavered. Through sheer force of will, she saw this project through, and now she can reap the rewards of her hard work.

We hope she savors every moment, as should the museum’s board of directors and its tireless chair, Roselyne Chroman Swig, a first-class fundraiser.

Wolf has said many times that the new museum was designed to provoke questions and spark conversation. She wants visitors to engage with the art on display, to respond to what they see and hear.

So get out there and engage. We urge all our readers to attend (admission is free this Sunday), and to tell friends and family to pay a visit to the Contemporary Jewish Museum.