Breed Street Shul
Congregation Talmud Torah of Los Angeles
Breed Street Shul
|Location||247 N. Breed St., Los Angeles, California|
|Built||1915 or 1923|
|Architect||Abram M. Edelman; et al.|
|Architectural style||Byzantine Revival; Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals, Other|
|Governing body||Local (private)|
|NRHP Reference #||01001192|
|Added to NRHP||November 4, 2001|
Breed Street Shul, also known as Congregation Talmud Torah of Los Angeles or Breed Street Synagogue, is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, California. It was the largest Orthodox synagogue in the western United States from 1915 to 1951, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Congregation Talmud Torah began in Downtown Los Angeles in 1904 but moved to Boyle Heights in 1913 as large numbers of Jews settled there. In 1915, a wood-framed building was dedicated for use as a school and chapel and became known as the "Breed Street Shul." The Jewish population grew from a few hundred in 1910 to 10,000 in 1930.
Construction of the existing structure
As the size of the congregation grew, a new synagogue was built, designed by the architectural firm of Edelman and Barnett. The original wood structure was moved to the back of the lot to make room for the new brick structure which opened in 1923. The new synagogue was built from unreinforced masonry with veneer brick and cast stone embellishments on the facade. The facade includes alternating bands of dichromatic brickwork, "dense prickly foliage carving, other organic motifs and Stars of David in bas relief cast stone detail.
Role in the Boyle Heights community
The Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, located east of downtown, was home to the city's most populous Jewish community from 1910 to 1950. The area around Breed Street Shul became a center for the Jewish community. The business district on Brooklyn Avenue (renamed Cesar Chavez Avenue in 1995) just north of the Shul was the location of many kosher butchers, bakeries, delis, bookstores and other shops catering to the Jewish community. The Breed Street block where the Shul was located also became home of the Los Angeles Jewish Academy and Mount Sinai Clinic (a forerunner of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center).
In 1945, Rabbi Osher Zilberstein of Breed Street Shul opened the city's first Jewish parochial elementary school. When Israel was established as an independent nation in 1948, Breed Street Shul was the site of a solemn ceremony in which the new flag of Israel was flown for the first time in Los Angeles.
Dispersal of Boyle Heights Jewish community
In the years after World War II, the Jewish community in Boyle Heights dispersed, moving to the Fairfax District, Beverlywood, Encino and other areas. Rabbi Zilberstein remained at Breed Street Shul until his death in 1973.
Vacancy and deterioration
The main brick building was vacated in the mid-1980s due to seismic retrofit requirements. Services were moved to the original wooden structure at the rear of the lot for several years, by 1996 services ceased at Breed Street Shul, and the buildings have been vacant since that time.  Boyle Heights in recent years has been a predominantly Hispanic community. The shul became extremely ramshackle after its vacancy as local youths and gang members graffitied over the walls and destroyed the pews and internal woodwork.
Historic designation and proposed restoration
In 1988, the building was designated as a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. The building fell into disrepair in the 1990s, the City of Los Angeles foreclosed on the property after recording an assessment for barricading and protection. In 1998, Hillary Clinton visited the Shul as part of her Save America's Treasures campaign. In July 2000, the City quitclaimed the property to Breed Street Shul Project, Inc., a subsidiary of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California. The organization plans to rehabilitate the buildings as a county museum, educational and cultural center. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
- Solomon Michael Neches, 1921–1935
- Osher Zilberstein, 1935–1973
- Israel Reich, 1946-1953
- Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments on the East and Northeast Sides
- List of Registered Historic Places in Los Angeles
- Hal Bernson, Los Angeles City Council member, 1979-2003
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- Chattel, Robert J., Francesca G. Smith, Nicole J. Purvis, Christy Lombardo, and Stephen J. Sass (May 8, 2001). PDF (32 KB). National Park Service.
- "Boyle Heights". Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative.
- "Historic-Cultural Monument Listing". City of Los Angeles.
- Breed Street Shul Project, Inc.
- A Feasibility Study For Saving Congregation Talmud Torah Of Los Angeles, Silverstein, David. 1995 from the American Jewish University