Los Angeles' oldest Jewish temple is getting a facelift.
The Wilshire Boulevard Temple was built by Hollywood moguls 83 years ago. In the renovation, it was discovered that the original structure was the work of some "movie magic." Rabbi Steven Leder says he was surprised to learn that the marble pillars, for instance, weren't really marble. Other Hollywood style features include having no aisles between the pews, just like the seating in the movie theaters of 83 years ago. At times, however, the original artists went above an beyond, painting details that would never been seen from the ground.
The Synagogue was built in 18 months. It will take longer than that to renovate. Rabbi Leder says they don't plan to change any of the original designs, including those that are more fit for Hollywood than for a synagogue.
The entire project is expected to cost $150 million. Members of the congregation are footing the bill and have raised $90 million so far. The entire project will include building new schools and community gathering places that will take up the entire block. Renovations will be complete by September 2013, just in time for the High Holy Days. Until then services are being held at an auditorium on campus, and at a second location in West Los Angeles.