Landmark Wilshire Boulevard Temple Receives $30 Million Pledge for Restoration Project

Philanthropist Erika Glazer has pledged $30 million over fifteen years toward the restoration of the landmark Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The gift, which gives Glazer naming rights to the temple's Koreatown campus, will be used to cover debt payments on the $150 million restoration and redevelopment project. The first phase of the project, the floor-to-dome restoration of the building's 1929 Byzantine auditorium, was launched in October 2011 and is scheduled to be completed in time for the temple to reopen in September. Plans for the next phase of redevelopment include a K-6 day school, a parking structure, and a social services facility to feed, clothe, and provide basic medical and legal aid for area residents.

Glazer told the Times that as a child she attended services at the temple conducted by the late Edgar Magnin, the so-called "rabbi to the stars," who persuaded Hollywood notables to help fund the temple in the 1920s. While most of L.A.'s 600,000-strong Jewish community has moved farther west and north of downtown in the decades since, senior rabbi Steven Z. Leder said he hoped the restored 1,850-seat sanctuary will serve as a magnet for younger Jewish families when it reopens for services on Rosh Hashanah.

"The day that Erika said yes, I felt an enormous weight...lifted from my shoulders," said Leder, who is spearheading the fundraising campaign for the temple. "We have cleared an enormous hurdle."

Martha Groves. "Her Turn to Pay It Forward." Los Angeles Times 02/11/2013. "L.A. Philanthropist Pledges $30 million to Wilshire Boulevard Temple Restoration." JTA News 02/14/2013.