January 21, 2019

Wilshire Boulevard Temple pledged $30 million by Erika Glazer

Wilshire Boulevard Temple has received a pledge of $30 million from Los Angeles philanthropist Erika Glazer to assist with its ongoing restoration and redevelopment.

The funds will be paid over 15 years to put in place tax-free bond financing for the next phase of the historic campus, which has been located at its present site in Koreatown since 1929, said Rabbi Steven Z. Leder.

“This puts us across the finish line for the second phase,” he said.

Currently, the congregation is restoring its sanctuary at a cost of about $50 million. The temple also paid $20 million for land in order to own the full city block. This phase is expected to be finished by Rosh Hashanah.

“The next phase will be renovating the school buildings, building the parking structure, the rooftop playground, and the tikkun olam (“healing the world”) center, which will be the largest tikkun olam center, I believe, of any synagogue in the country,” said Leder, who has been senior rabbi at the temple since 2003.

The tikkun olam center will be a place where, among other things, congregants can volunteer. These renovations are expected to come with a price tag of $36 million, Leder said.

The congregation’s board is scheduled to vote on the project’s second phase on March 12. Its targeted completion date would be June 2016, Leder said.

The rabbi said that Glazer, the daughter of a real estate developer, grew up at the temple.

“I’ve been close with her for many years,” Leder said. “She was an early backer of the entire project.”

A third phase of work at the congregation, which will require an undetermined amount of funding, will be the construction of a banquet and administration building at the corner of Harvard and Wilshire boulevards.

“We currently do not have everything we need to fund that, and that’s what I’m working on next,” Leder said.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple was built to be the fanciest building money could buy for the denizens of the silver screen’s Reform Jewish congregation. Its dramatic, quasi-Byzantine-Moorish design by architect A.M. Edelman (son of the congregation’s first rabbi, Abraham Edelman) was constructed over a span of just 18 months, at a cost of $1.5 million, under the leadership of Senior Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin who presided from 1919 to 1984. It was made to compete with the cathedral-scaled churches and ornate office buildings that were lining up along Los Angeles’ grandest new street.