L.A. philanthropist pledges $30 million to Wilshire Boulevard Temple restoration

LOS ANGELES (JTA) – A Los Angeles philanthropist has pledged $30 million to support a vast restoration project for the city’s landmark Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

The donation by Erika Glazer, to be paid over a 15-year period, guarantees the financing of a $150 million facelift for the historic Reform synagogue, whose large dome and Byzantine-style sanctuary has earned it entry into the National Register of Historic Places.

Glazer recalled that as a child she attended services at the temple with her father, shopping mall developer Guilford Glazer, and never forgot the experience, the L.A. Times reported.

The temple’s forerunner, Congregation B’nai B’rith, was founded in 1862 as one of the first Reform synagogues in the United States. It moved to its present location in 1929, when the site marked the western boundary of the rapidly expanding metropolis.

The catalyst and fundraiser for the renamed Wilshire Boulevard Temple was its rabbi, Edgar Magnin. Known as “the rabbi to the stars,” Magnin enlisted such early Hollywood moguls as Louis B. Mayer, Adolph Zucker, the Warner brothers and Irving Thalberg to finance the undertaking

Since then, most of the 600,000-strong Jewish community has moved farther west and north. However, the temple’s present senior rabbi, Steven Z. Leder, hopes that when the restored 1,850-seat sanctuary reopens for services on Rosh Hashanah, younger Jewish families from mid- and downtown Los Angeles will participate.

Additionally, the temple plans to offer a kindergarten-through-sixth-grade day school, expanded parking, and a social service center for the neighborhood’s mixed ethnic population.

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