L.A. 5758 Briefs

80 Years in Venice

Congregation Mishkon Tephilo’s historic Main Street sanctuary.

Not much has stayed the same on Main Street in Venice over the past 80 years. From its early days as a heavily Jewish neighborhood, to a victim of the urban decay of the ’60s and ’70s, to the Yuppie-driven revitalization of the ’80s and ’90s, the beachtown thoroughfare has ridden the waves of Los Angeles history.

And while Congregation Mishkon Tephilo, now celebrating its 80th anniversary, certainly ebbed and flowed with those tides, it has held fast as a mainstay of the neighboring Jewish communities.

The columned building on Main Street, now surrounded by Armani stores and the likes of Schatzi’s and Chinois, has been home to the congregation for the past 50 years.

“When you walk into services, one of the things people find so wonderful is everyone is participating, everyone is praying and singing,” says synagogue President Brett Barenholtz.

The 200-family Conservative synagogue, under the leadership of Rabbi Dan Shevitz, will celebrate this weekend with a concert featuring world-class performers Joseph Gold and Daniel Glover. Gold, the son of Mishkon Tephilo members, is a virtuoso violinist who has accompanied Luciano Pavarotti. Pianist Glover has appeared in concert with the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago and San Francisco symphonies.

Sunday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m. at Mishkon Tephilo, 206 Main Street. Ticket prices begin at $25; (310) 392-3029.

Iranian Community Buys Historic Hollywood Synagogue

The sale of Hollywood Temple Beth El to the Iranian American Jewish Federation is a win-didn’t-quite-lose deal: The Iranian Jewish community will establish its first community center, and the historic but foundering Hollywood Temple Beth El will remain a Jewish institution where members can pray at a traditional service.

“Most shuls sold become parking lots or churches. This is one of the first times we’ve had a chance to save a shul by selling it to Jews,” says Sanford Gaum, president of Beth El, who says he turned away investors who wanted to bulldoze the 55,000 square-foot building at Crescent Heights and Fountain in West Hollywood.

“Things are going to continue more or less on the same lines in terms of services, but we are hoping to be able to attract a lot more members and basically revive Beth El as a significant center for Jewish activity in the city,” says Sam Kermanian, secretary general of the IAJF, which purchased the building for $2.8 million.

The building includes a 1,200-seat sanctuary, two social halls, classrooms, offices and a parking lot across the street. Five of 15 seats on the new board will go to Beth El members.

IAJF President Ezatollah Delijani hopes the center will attract younger members of the Persian community, who, after living in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years, often feel out of place at services run in Farsi.

“I think everybody recognizes that when you relocate to a new culture and a new language, the best thing to do is to adapt fast — the sooner the better,” Kermanian says.

Delijani says this could be the first bridge to integrating the Persian community with the general Jewish community, which he hopes will also partake in the center’s offerings.

“There are little differences in our cultures,” Delijani says, “but gradually we should be one.”

Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Katsav will speak at an inauguration for the new center Sunday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m., 1317 N. Crescent Heights; (213) 656-3150. Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Religion Editor