Southern California breaking news and trends

Show biz sanctuary: $150 million restoration of 83-year-old synagogue

wilshire boulevard temple

Photo by Robert Garcia via Flickr Creative Commons

Non-Westside worshippers at the iconic Wilshire Boulevard Temple are working together to finance a Hollywood-heavy project of biblical proportions -- a $150 million restoration of their crumbling sanctuary.

The synagogue was opened in 1929 in the area now known as Koreatown, with funding from gantseh k'nackers Irving Thalberg, Carl Laemmle, Louis B. Mayer and brothers Jack and Harry Warner, reports The Hollywood Reporter

The first since its founding, rehab work is set to wrap in time for the 2013 High Holidays. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion will serve as stand-in for this fall's services.

Backed by gifts from its long-standing, silver screeners (the congregation dates back to 1862), the $150 million makeover ($90 million has been raised, so far) will include renovation of the historic domed sanctuary, construction of a new K-6 school, parking structure with rooftop play area, administration building, and a separate event space for community services, like food-pantry assistance. 


Mel Gibson still not a fan of the Jews, says screenwriter Joe Eszterhas

25th American Cinematheque Award Honoring Robert Downey, Jr. - Show

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

A severe letter has surfaced from screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (of "Flashdance and "Basic Instinct" fame) to Mel Gibson (of anti-Semitic rants and "Lethal Weapon" fame) after a falling out during their collaboration on "The Maccabees," a film about Judas Maccabeus (of warrior/Hanukkah fame).

Obtained by The Wrap, the Eszterhas letter quotes a number of offensive statements allegedly made by the actor, and makes a variety of pointed accusations that Gibson denies in his reply letter, obtained by Deadline.

Eszterhas says Gibson's participation in "The Maccabees" project was an attempt at deflecting charges of anti-Semitism. Gibson says Eszterhas' work was below standards.

The project was put on hold, the L.A. Times reported Wednesday, after Warner Bros. rejected Eszterhas’ script.


Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner


Jewish family's Sherman Oaks home is a target of anti-Semitic scrawling, again

swastika in sherman oaks

Screenshot via NBC LA

Swastikas marked on three Sherman Oaks homes this week are being categorized as hate crimes, authorities say, because the victims of the vandalism are Jewish.

Residents woke Wednesday to find Nazi iconography on the cars, walls, gates and mailboxes of their Leghorn Avenue community. A second-generation Holocaust survivor who lives in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood was visibly shaken by the event, NBC LA reported.

Resident Jennifer Niman, whose grandparents perished in the Holocaust, remarked to KTLA, that "this is not something you want to walk out and see in Sherman Oaks," continuing, "It's like Germany 1938."

Niman, who told the Jewish Journal that her neighbors were too upset to speak with the media, wondered about the houses that were defaced. "There are 12 Orthodox Jewish families on the block," she said. "Why pick these three?"