Houses of Worship: Wilshire Boulevard Temple

RELIGIONS NEWS AGENCY (REDNA) – It’s 1929 in Los Angeles. There are one million residents in the city. Miracle Mile is becoming the new commercial center, drawing people out of downtown. New houses of worship are being built in West L.A. The leader of Congregation B’nai B’rith, Rabbi Edgar Magnin, has just put his congregation at the center of it with a newly constructed Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Today the Temple is listed on the National Register for Historic Places and is among the truly iconic churches of L.A. with the likes of La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles, which was dedicated in 1822 and is one of the oldest missions in the city; the Wayfarers Chapel, a glass church on a cliff overlooking the Pacific designed by Lloyd Wright; the Château Élysée, a 17th-century-style Normandy castle that is now the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre; the Los Angeles California Temple, the second largest temple of the LDS Church; and the contemporary landmark at the heart of downtown, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Rabbi Edgar Magnin, also known as “Rabbi to the stars,” was the visionary behind Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the contributions of his Hollywood congregants show in the temple itself. Some of the biggest names of the day in Hollywood were involved: Irving Thalberg, Carl Laemmle, Louis B. Mayer and Sol Lesser provided the funding and used their craftsmen to construct and add a little bit of Hollywood magic to the temple itself. From the interior decoration of the dome to the movie theater-style seating, Hollywood members of the congregation were involved. The Warner Memorial Murals adorning the walls of the temple were painted by Hugo Ballin, a painter and film director who worked for Warner Brothers and was commissioned for the temple murals by none other than Jack, Harry and Albert Warner, the Warner Brothers.

Abram M. Edelman, son of the congregation’s first rabbi, designed the historic temple in Moorish architectural style. It is topped by a dome, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, which is 100 feet in diameter and peaks at 135 feet above the street. Inside the sanctuary there are seats for 1,658 congregants, lancet stained-glass windows to the east and west, 320 feet of murals and a 4,100-pipe Kimball organ. And straight above is the almost honeycomb pattern rising to meet the dome above.

The Wilshire Boulevard Temple has expanded since opening to become the Erika J. Glazer Family Campus, consisting of an entire city block with a 55,000-square-foot pavilion, an early childhood center and a community service center. Additionally, they have opened new campuses in West L.A. and Brentwood to further service their growing congregation. They are increasingly working with their community, helping their neighbors as Edgar Magnin put it: “While we’re alive, let’s move, sing, laugh, cry, pray, love, live…enjoy today and build for tomorrow…and all together.”

Source: World Religion News

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