My old office, on the 15th floor at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Kingsley Drive, looked directly at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. It would have been an ideal location to set up a time-lapse camera to document the slow but historic changes that have taken place there over the past few years.
Early on a recent Wednesday morning, architect Brenda Levin bounded up the metal steps temporarily installed at the center of the historic sanctuary of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Leading the way up 10 flights — that’s 100 feet — she climbed to the normally inaccessible domed ceiling, high enough to touch the enormous Hebrew letters circling the oculus' opening.
The boulevard in the 1920s was the natural place for the institutions and their members to relocate. They saw that, in the future, downtown's narrow, congested streets would no longer be the center of the community. Los Angeles was turning into a driving city, and Wilshire became the nation's first Automobile Age thoroughfare. Religious establishments that wished to be part of the exciting future moved to Wilshire Boulevard.
On a particular stretch of Wilshire Boulevard near Westwood at 6 p.m., right-lane traffic is hopelessly stalled. A stream of cars crowds the intersection, trying to squeeze into the nearby parking lot of a well-known synagogue.
It's a familiar sight: With most people heading home from work, L.A.'s Jewish community is swimming against the current, driving to services in some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city.
When Rabbi Harvey Fields becomes rabbi emeritus on June 1, after serving for 21 years, Rabbi Steven Leder will succeed him -- a transition the two have been preparing for, along with the staff and the board, for the past three years.
Edward Sanders, a community leader for 45 years, is heading the "Campaign for the 21st Century," which expects to raise $20 million by Dec. 31 to fund the rebuilding project.
As was reported in the Jewish Journal, the decision for the Jewish Federation to move back to the site at 6505 Wilshire was an emotional one. It was also a difficult one, in light of the enormous changes facing the Los Angeles Jewish community.