Wilshire Boulevard Temple announced this week a significant plan to renovate its University Campus (formerly University Synagogue) after receiving a $13 million gift from philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick, owners of The Wonderful Company and longtime members of the congregation.
The gift will establish the Wilshire Boulevard Temple Lynda and Stewart Resnick Campus and the Wilshire Boulevard Temple Lynda and Stewart Resnick Early Childhood Center. Work is set to begin this summer, with construction slated to be completed in time for the 2023 high holidays, synagogue officials said.
“This incredibly generous gift from Lynda and Stewart will move our vision into reality and allow us to create a more vibrant and creative future for the Jewish community on the westside of Los Angeles,” said Rabbi Steve Leder, the Temple’s senior rabbinical leader. “Los Angeles is home to the second largest Jewish community in America, and this commitment by the Resnicks will help us engage our community in new and important ways.”
The mid-century modern synagogue located in Brentwood will receive a sweeping restoration to include public spaces for worship and celebration, as well as an updated early childhood center, religious school, and suite of teen and adult classrooms. Wilshire Boulevard Temple recently completed major renovations to the Audrey Irmas Pavilion at its Glazer Campus in Koreatown.
“[This gift] will enable us to continue inspiring children and their parents, along with people of all ages with the wisdom, power and beauty of Torah, prayer, learning, singing, celebrating and helping others,” said Rabbi Leder. “All of that is possible anywhere, but even more so now in our Temple thanks to the generosity and vision that are at Lynda and Stewart’s core.”
Rabbi Leder said that the Resnicks’ cornerstone gift reflects their longstanding support of the Jewish community and their roots in the Wilshire Boulevard Temple congregation.
The Resnicks own The Wonderful Company, which produces and distributes brands such as Fiji Water, Wonderful Pistachios, Wonderful Almonds and POM Wonderful, and have a long track record of giving back.
“We have always believed philanthropy must start close to home and that Tikkun Olam begins in one’s own community,” said the Resnicks in a statement. “Wilshire Boulevard Temple has been a welcoming home to our family for a generation and we are proud to support the establishment of a space that will provide that same sense for families in West Los Angeles for generations to come.”
As of April 2022, Wilshire Boulevard Temple has raised $19.5 million of the $35 million needed for the project, according to Rabbi Leder. Funds have come from a host of donors in addition to the Resnicks.
The Karsh Family Foundation donated $2.5 million, plus an additional $500,000 through a matching grant, to name the Karsh Family Social Services Center West. The Bram and Elaine Goldsmith Charitable Trust committed $2.5 million to name the Bram and Elaine Goldsmith Religious School, and the Trudy Mandel Louis Charitable Trust will provide $1 million to renovate the temple’s stain glass installations.
Originally founded in 1862, Wilshire Boulevard Temple has grown into one of Southern California’s largest and most influential congregations. It provides worship, adult programs, life cycle events, volunteer and social action opportunities, early childhood, elementary, and religious schools, as well as cultural and educational events at its campuses in Koreatown, West Los Angeles and Brentwood.