Like most legends in Hollywood, Temple Israel of Hollywood has undergone a few makeovers to stay fresh since it was founded in 1926. Maybe that's why even as it celebrates its 75th anniversary, the Reform synagogue is even more bustling than it was in its heyday when it was billed as "Filmland's House of Worship."
Founded by a handful of Hollywood legends, the shul on Hollywood Boulevard west of La Brea Avenue thrived from 1942-1974 under the leadership of Rabbi Max Nussbaum, who not only married such stars Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fischer, but managed to bring in speakers like Golda Meir and Martin Luther King Jr.
But in a familiar story, shifting demographics and a deteriorating Hollywood Boulevard left the shul with a dwindling membership in the '70s and early '80s, until the arrival of Rabbi John Rosove in 1988. Rabbi Rosove rebuilt the temple, focusing on the preschool and the religious school, and building up the day school.
Today, with 850 member families, the synagogue is a center of adult learning and social action. Most recently, the shul embarked on a three-year period of introspection and change under the guidance of Synagogue 2000, a synagogue revitalization project run out of the Whizin Center for the Jewish Future at the University of Judaism.
"We are looking at all our assumptions and coming up with ideas about how to make Judaism more than pediatric -- where people just come for the kids," says Jane Zuckerman, the temple's executive director. "We're looking for ways to make it family inclusive, with adult prayer and advanced adult education."
In celebration of the 75th anniversary, Temple Israel has installed a new wall of history in the synagogue. The community and anyone who has been involved with Temple Israel is invited to Friday night services June 1 at 7 p.m. to participate in a special anniversary Shabbat, where many past and present members will join together for services, Israeli dancing and an Oneg Shabbat. The celebration will continue Saturday night, June 2 at 6:30 p.m. at a dinner dance.
Temple Israel of Hollywood is at 7300 Hollywood Blvd. at Martel. For more information, call (323) 876-8330.
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