Just a mile and a half east of Hancock Park, the grand Wilshire Boulevard Temple was erected over 80 years ago and known as the “Temple of the Stars” for its original funding by three of the Warner brothers and producer Irving Thalberg in 1929. But it might also earn the moniker for its elaborate interior, which has recently been refurbished.
With the first segment of its $150 million renovation almost complete, the temple looks better than ever and hopes to draw a resurgence of Jewish congregants back into the heart of Koreatown. Since most synagogues in Los Angeles are based on the westside, Wilshire Boulevard Temple hopes to draw in younger jewish observers now settling in Los Feliz, downtown or Silverlake. The temple will also expand its community outreach in the neighborhood, with a planned expansion over the entire block to include a school and a social services center for the nearby community.
Rabbi Steve Leder has a fun list online of the “Top Ten Sanctuary Surprises” he found during the restoration. Among them? How dirty the dome actually was and the deep blues, azures and aquas that were brought back to life by cleaning; how complicated the removal, repair and reassembly was of the 3,000 pound stained glass rose window, and how even the non-Jewish workers felt it was not “just another job” working on this extraordinary historic building.
The Wilshire Boulevard Temple will be open to the public in a free Interfaith Chorale Concert September 29th for those who want to take in the visual beauty along with music from many faiths. For more details, the New York Times also recently reported on the renovation.