Temple Israel of Hollywood
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|Temple Israel of Hollywood|
Temple Israel of Hollywood is a Reform Jewish synagogue in Hollywood, California founded in 1926. Services were originally held in the Hayakawa Mansion before the first Temple Israel building was established on Ivar Street under the leadership of Rabbi Isadore Isaacson. Temple Israel moved to its current location on Hollywood Boulevard in 1948. It has traditionally had a large number of film actors, writers, directors and producers as members.
Today Temple Israel is nearly 1,000 families strong, and includes three schools. It is led by Rabbi John Rosove, Rabbi Michelle Missagieh, and Chazzan Danny Maseng.
Temple Israel was founded in 1926 after Sol M. Wurtzel, Isadore Bernstein, and Edward Laemmle met at the Hollywood Plaza hotel to discuss the need for a house of worship for the Hollywood community. A former Church on Ivar Street was purchased, and served the Temple over the next two decades before the size of the congregation necessitated a larger building. The current temple was built in 1948 by noted architects Samuel Lunden and S. Charles Lee and has been expanded several times.
Shortly after its founding, the Temple began staging its Midnight Show, a fundraiser that over the years saw such stars as Benny Rubin, Lucille Ball, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Shirley MacLaine, and Lena Horne perform on behalf of the Temple.
Rabbi Max Nussbaum was brought in to serve as Rabbi in 1943 after Rabbi Morton Bauman left his pulpit to serve in the war. Rabbi Nussbaum would remain the Rabbi for the next 32 years until his death in 1974. Cantor Saul Silverman served alongside Rabbi Nussbaum, and served the Temple for over 39 years. During Rabbi Nussbaum's tenure Temple Israel established itself as a great friend of Israel, raising large sums for the fledgling state. Many famous speakers were also brought in to speak before the congregation. Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, Rabbi Leo Baeck, and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise all spoke from the pulpit. Harry Belafonte, Leon Uris, and Theodore Bikel also spoke before the congregation. In 1965 Martin Luther King Jr. gave a rousing speech from the bima to the congregation.
After the death of Rabbi Nussbaum, the pulpit passed to Rabbi Haskell Bernat. Cantor Aviva Rosenbloom came to the Temple at the same time and would serve as Cantor for over 30 years. After Rabbi Daniel Polish served a short term as senior Rabbi, Rabbi John Rosove was brought in to lead the Congregation in 1988, and he still leads it to this day along with Rabbi Michelle Missagieh and Chazzan Danny Maseng.
At the dedication ceremony of the temple on west Hollywood Blvd., a small orchestra played "Poem Ancien" for cello and narrator by Alexander (Sasha) Borisoff. Edward G. Robinson narrated.
- The Temple's perpetual lamp was donated by Producer Hal Wallis.
- Henry Diskay, who sang Kol Nidre in The Jazz Singer served as Cantorial soloist in the 1930s.
- Rabbi Nussbaum rescued a small Torah on Kristallnacht that now resides in the Temple's Ark.
- Tony Curtis crowned the Purim Carnival Queen in 1952.
- Eddie Fisher once sang Kol Nidre on the High Holidays.
- Elizabeth Taylor converted to Judaism at Temple Israel in 1959.
- Marlon Brando and Bob Dylan attended Passover Seder at the Temple in 1975
- In 1996 the Temple began Chesed Day, by 1999 it was known as Mitzvah Day. Today it's called Big Sunday and is a citywide event.
- The Temple owns Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.
Notable Current and Former Members and Congregants
- Al Jolson
- Hal Wallis
- Martha Hyer
- Sol Wurtzel
- Isadore Bernstein
- Edward Laemmle
- Leon Schlesinger
- Lion Feuchtwanger
- Sammy Davis Jr.
- May Britt
- Elizabeth Taylor
- Eddie Fisher
- Eddie Cantor
- George Jessel
- Martha Hyer
- Leonard Nimoy
- Steve Broidy
- Osa Massen
- David O. Selznick
- Mike Todd
- Lea Thompson
- Frances Bay
- Amanda Peet
- Ben Stein