The recently restored ‘Temple Of The Stars’ is so beautiful that I may just have to convert, oy vey!
The Temple traces its origins to the first Jewish worship service in Los Angeles, held in 1851. Built in 1929, the Wilshire temple had never had a renovation and fell into disrepair.
Faced with the threat of extinction that has forced synagogues in other parts of the country to close or merge, Wilshire has responded with force: a $150 million program to restore the synagogue to its former grandeur.
The $150 million is among the highest amounts ever spent on a synagogue renovation and the $50 million spent on the first phase, which included the Sanctuary, is breathtaking.
LA based architect Brenda Levin was chosen for the project based on her previous historic preservation work which includes the Griffith Observatory, City Hall, the Wiltern Theater, the Bradbury Building, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House and Dodger Stadium.
The ceiling inside the Piness Auditorium kind of reminded me of Union Station & City Hall.
Window wall inside the Piness Auditorium.
The prayer inscribed in Hebrew around the Oculus, at the apex of the interior coffered dome, comes from the shm’a prayer, a centerpiece of all Jewish prayer services. The words read: Shm’a Yisroael, Adonoi Eloheinu, Adonaoi Echad; which translates to “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
The Temple’s immense dome immediately became a landmark in Wilshire Center and throughout Los Angeles. The construction of the temple cost $1.5 million in 1929 dollars.
Judson Studios did all the glass restoration on the project.
Leading into the very modern memorial wall designed by Lita Albuquerque.
The two-part wall consists of 10 electronic panels filled with a total of 1,700 azure-blue spheres, each one intended to memorialize a member of the congregation. With the help of artists Aaron Bocanegra, Mattia Casalegno and Bill Kronholm, the panels will be programmed to light each sphere during the week that person died, as part of the Jewish ritual of remembering the deceased on the anniversary of his death. For one week each year, all the spheres will be lit. In the center of one of the panels is a large round plate bearing the Hebrew word yizkor, meaning “remember.”
This screen conceals the organ on the bimah. Unlike most synagogues, there is no central aisle leading to the bimah, or altar.
These patterns repeat throughout the temple.
More beautiful glass restoration by Judson Studios.
This new exterior installation is located above the donor wall which replaced the original fountain in the courtyard.
The $150 million program to restore the synagogue includes extending the campus to fill a whole block, building a school and a social services center for the community.
Yes, that’s a sports field on top of the roof which they plan on opening up to the whole community not just the congregation.
The immense Byzantine revival dome stands at 100 feet in diameter with its top 135 feet from the street. Its base is flanked by 28 buttresses, or small towers, rising from the ring girder for support. The original dome was topped in white ceramic which ended up leaking. Copper was installed shortly after.
Cast stone work on the temple’s exterior.
Landscape designer Katie Spitz discusses her design process for the project.
I loved these trees!
“The murals were a radical artistic statement because the second of the Ten Commandments forbids graven images, so Jews shunned iconography and figurative art,” Rabbi Leder said. “These guys just decided to make a different statement.”
The walls are covered with murals depicting stages of Jewish history through 1929. They were painted by Hugo Ballin, who for much of his career was a Hollywood art director, and were commissioned by the Warner brothers.
Designed in the Gothic tradition by the Oliver Smith Studios of Pennsylvania, the Temple’s distinctive rose window on the south wall of the sanctuary, and stained glass windows on the east and west walls, have been described as being among the finest examples of this art form in the United States. The rose window weighs 27,000 pounds and was a bitch to restore.
During the recent renovation, the rose window was removed and repaired at the Judson Studios in Los Angeles. The Rose Window depicts a Torah Scroll and a Star of David in the center and symbols of the Twelve Tribes of Israel in the outer circle.
Memorial wall or Jewish Jeopardy? You decide.
The eight Spice Box Chandeliers hanging in the sanctuary were also restored back to their original glory.
The triple lancet windows on the east and west walls are each made up of some 5,000-6,000 pieces of glass and are the symbolic representation of the 12 tribes of Israel. Original funding for the east and west lancet windows was donated by film producer and studio head Louis B. Mayer.