Sanctuary to open for High Holy services; dedication set Sept. 29 at Wilshire Boulevard Temple

| August 28, 2013 | 0 Comments
Wilshire Blvd Temple.  Photography by Tom Bonner Job ID 5924

RESTORED Wilshire Boulevard facade with rose window.

Members of Wilshire Boulevard Temple will be sitting closer to the clergy and those in the balcony will be seated on restored original pews when the renovated sanctuary opens in time for High Holy Days this month.

Newly constructed wheelchair ramps crafted of marble and a lowered and extended bimah—platform from where the Torah is read—are among new features of the spiritual heart of the temple. A chandelier overlooks the restored pews and new carpet.

Built in 1929 with funds from the Warner brothers and film producer Irving Thalberg, the temple’s refurbished 1,658-seat sanctuary and outdoor space were restored as the first phase of a 10-year project.

Dedication concert

ONE OF TWO triple lancet stained glass windows in the sanctuary.

ONE OF TWO triple lancet stained glass windows in the sanctuary.

A celebration is set for Sun., Sept. 29 with Mayor Eric Garcetti and several city choirs at a community-wide dedication. The Unity Concert will feature dignitaries of all faiths and begins at 5:30 p.m.

Singer-songwriter Burt Bacharach will perform at the closing.  The event is free but RSVP required at

(Kids Concert with rock singer Sheldon Low will take place earlier in the day, at 10 a.m.)

“This is a very internally-focused space, but it is as awe-inspiring [as Griffith Observatory] and very spiritual and moving for me,” said Brenda Levin of Levin & Associates Architects. Besides the Griffith Observatory, the architect and longtime congregation member also restored Dodger Stadium, City Hall and the Bradbury Building.

Also included in this first phase are updating the Davidson Patio with smooth paving, landscaping and lighting, and the new Audrey Irmas Courtyard, which is adjacent to the Sanctuary.

The entire $160-million renovation will include new learning centers, a sports complex, a 500-space parking lot, and a

BIMAH or stage on which services are conducted with the ark, which holds the Torah, in the center.

BIMAH or stage on which services are conducted with the ark, which holds the Torah, in the center.

community service center to serve neighbors on the block between Hobart and Harvard boulevards.

Top 10 surprises

Rabbi Steven Leder compiled a Top Ten of Sanctuary Surprises of the restoration, printed in the Temple August bulletin. On the list are the four semi-trailers it took to move the temple’s organ pipes to Ohio for restoration.

Number two on his list the complex task of taking apart, repairing, cleaning and reassembling with new lead the 3,000-pound stained glass in the Rose Window.

And number one? “How great our ancestors who built Wilshire Boulevard Temple really were and how fortunate we are because of them.”

Tracing its roots to when Abraham Lincoln was president, continued growth moved the congregation to its Wilshire Blvd. location. The temple entered the U.S. Register of Historic Places in 1981.

The interior features black marble, gold inlay, mosaics, rare woods, Biblically-themed murals and an immense Byzantine dome.

For more on the dedication visit

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