Ancient Synagogue to Receive 'Hollywood Makeover'

One of the oldest operating synagogues in California is set to receive a “Hollywood makeover,” after damage was caused to building.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,


The Wilshire Boulevard Synagogue, one of the oldest operating synagogues in California, is set to receive a “Hollywood makeover,” after a 10 pound piece of plaster fell from the ceiling, damaging the building.

The congregants, many of whom are Hollywood executives, have helped spearhead a $150 million renovation, which is set to be completed in time for Rosh Hashana of 2013, noted The Hollywood Reporter.

“It reaches back to the pioneer days of not just Jewish Los Angeles but Los Angeles itself,” Stephen Sass, a VP of legal affairs at HBO and the president of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California said. “It’s the oldest continually operating synagogue in the city.”

“It’s a very bold statement, this temple,” said John Fogelman, a member of the Wilshire Synagogue. “You can’t deny it’s projecting strength and fortitude from a group that had a lot of these types of structures in Europe, and a lot of them don’t exist any longer. So when you walk through those doors, there is an extraordinary set of feelings, from courage to pride to, quite frankly, defiance. And there is also a sense of serious responsibility since it’s ours.”

“The temple is in a less-Jewish neighborhood, one of the most diverse parts of the city -- a lot of Latinos, Asians,” said Jewish film producer Lawrence Bender. “It’s great to have Jewish institutions in Jewish enclaves, but to have a major Jewish institution here is important because, especially with the social-service center aspect, what better way to promote tikkun olam [a Hebrew expression connoting the healing of the world]?” It is a message Leder promoted in his second book, More Money Than God: Living a Rich Life Without Losing Your Soul, which talked about charitable tithing and social justice.

The $150 million plan, of which $90 million has been raised, includes plans to renovate the holy site, build a new K-6 school and a separate event space, which will be geared toward housing charity work, like food-pantry assistance, which is provided to the surrounding community.