Breed Street Shul

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Congregation Talmud Torah of Los Angeles
Congregation Talmud Torah (Breed Street Shul), Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.JPG
Breed Street Shul
Breed Street Shul is located in California
Breed Street Shul
Location 247 N. Breed St., Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°2′48″N 118°12′31″W / 34.04667°N 118.20861°W / 34.04667; -118.20861Coordinates: 34°2′48″N 118°12′31″W / 34.04667°N 118.20861°W / 34.04667; -118.20861
Built 1915 or 1923
Architect Abram M. Edelman; et al.
Architectural style Byzantine Revival; Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals, Other
NRHP Reference # 01001192[1]
LAHCM # 359
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 4, 2001
Designated LAHCM 1988

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,[2] and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Early history[edit]

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.[2]

Construction of the existing structure[edit]

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.[2]

Role in the Boyle Heights community[edit]

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).[2]

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.[2]

Dispersal of Boyle Heights Jewish community[edit]

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.[2]

Vacancy and deterioration[edit]

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. [2] Boyle Heights in recent years has been a predominantly Hispanic community.[3] The shul became extremely ramshackle after its vacancy. Graffiti covers the walls and the pews and internal woodwork have been destroyed.

The Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.JPG

Historic designation and proposed restoration[edit]

In 1988, the building was designated as a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.[4] The building fell into disrepair in the 1990s, and 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.[1][2]



  • Israel Reich, 1946-1953

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Chattel, Robert J., Francesca G. Smith, Nicole J. Purvis, Christy Lombardo, and Stephen J. Sass (May 8, 2001). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Congregation Talmud Torah of Los Angeles / Breed Street Shul; Breed Street Synagogue" (pdf). National Park Service. 
  3. ^ "Boyle Heights". Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative. 
  4. ^ "Historic-Cultural Monument Listing" (PDF). City of Los Angeles. 

External links[edit]