Here is the link to Rabbi Weinberg's discussion
Stories for 100 years of Hollywood
Temple Beth El
Rabbi Norbert Weinberg January 26,2022
This is an account of the founding years of
Hollywood Temple Beth El and the involvement of key figures in the newly established film industry who had
made Hollywood their center of operations and their new home. It follows
through with highlighting some key notables associated with the Temple during
Early references to HTBE
Jan 26, 1922 was our official founding, though
we actually go back a few more years, 1920, with services held at a bungalow at 1414 North Wilton Place, adjacent
to what is now Home Depot on Sunset.
In 1922 a synagogue was built at 1508 North
Wilton Place, one block north, just at the exit ramp of the 101( the primary
reason we are no longer there! )
(Source:The Jewish Community in Los Angeles ,Compiled
by Clifton L. Holland www.prolades.com/glama/la5co07/jewish_community.htm )
This was the old Temple but now it is
a Hispanic Baptist Church
I found this oldest reference in the American
Jewish Yearbook, 1922:
Rabbi Emanuel Schreiber, President Ed. Wise,
Secretary, Louis Kirstein. 65 Members with a school of 4 teachers and 60
And this one from the B’nai Messenger( LA’s
Jewish paper of record in the 20th Century)
. It shows the opening of
a religious school with an invitation to people in the community to enroll
( These copies are preserved on line at the
National Library of Israel, https://www.nli.org.il/en )
Here is Bnai Brith Messenger announcing the new
name” Beth El.”
Here are a few other clips from what used to be
the paper of record of LA’s Jews
ELECTS RABBI ADDLESON
Temple Beth - El unanimously elected Rabbi N . I . Addleson as rabbi at a
general meeting recently . Given a contract for five years dating from
September 1 , 1938 , he will deliver his first sermon at the Temple on Friday
evening , September 16 . . . Born in London , England , he received his
education at the London Talmudical College , graduating with honors in higher
Rabbinics , and is in possession of credentials ( Semicha ) - from renowned
rabbis . He was a member of Bnai Brith in England , and honorary chaplain of
the Order of Sons of Jacob . He is a member of the Misrad Harabbonim of Los
Angeles , a member of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California , and an
officer in Cedars of Lebanon Lodge , B nai Brith . The rabbi plans to build up
the congregation in the Hollywood district , where there is a large field for
activity for Hebrew education and religious life , with the cooperation of the
congregation , the sisterhood and the proposed men s club . The Temple now has
a Talmud Torah and Sunday school directed by Rev . Wellington .
This one from 1948 , announcing a Judge McKay
as guest speaker . An interesting note at the end references Shabbat afternoon
Talmud class delivered in “Jewish”, in other words, . Quite probably, Yiddish
may have been the unofficial language of Hollywood at the time.
What brought Jews here?
This account was written by Rabbi Max Vorspan,
who spoke here at many occasions when he was Senior VP of the University of
Judaism. The past President, his colleague, Rabbi David Lieber, used to lead
the overflow High Holy Days services here in my day(co-author: Prof Lloyd P.
In short, Louis Mayer started with the junk business,
Laemmle in the clothing business, Goldfish (later, Goldwyn) in the glove
business, Selznick in jewelry. All were driven by the prospect of entering an industry
that “ genteel” ( and “ gentile”) society frowned upon and laughed at. The big
money of the day “ insisted that the public would be interested only in
one-reel films about ten minutes in length.” Hardcover – January 1, 1970 by Max Vorspan (Author), Lloyd P. Gartner (Author)
For a brief visual account, you will find this video
to be eye opening: https://youtu.be/A6kLNp5uTfU
(When Jews Ran Hollywood: Vaudeville, Immigrants, and the
American Dream | Unpacked)
This is the account of the founding
, written by George Bilson, called “ In the
Beginning” ( thanks to Judy Alkalay for sharing with us) ; this was written in
1952, at the time of our new building here at 1317 N Crescent Heights [My notes
are in brackets]
one score and one year ago, sixteen ·farsighted men met at the home of Ed Weiss
to form a conservative congregation. This was the beginning of Hollywood's
first synagogue which, for the next thirty years was to serve as a House of
Worship, House of Study and House of Assembly for the rapidly-growing Jewish
community of the Western Avenue-Sunset Boulevard district.
[Note: We precede our neighbor, Temple Israel
by several years. The third Reform congregation in
Los Angeles, was founded in 1926 by four men from Temple Beth El who wanted to
create a more modern temple]
Friday evening services were held in a bungalow on Wilton Place just south of
Sunset Boulevard. An improvised Ark, two Torah scrolls and some folding chairs
transformed the living room into a House of Worship. The congregation elected
Ed Weiss president; Samuel Tuch, vice-president [ his grandson, Larry, was
still on the board when I was her]; E. J. Peiser, recording secretary; Louis
Kirstein, financial secretary; Joseph Miller, treasurer. A charter was granted by
the State of California and the Congregation was incorporated January 26, 1922.
A few months later a lot was purchased for $8,500 [Imagine finding a lot at that price
today!] at 1508 North Wilton Place and
plans for the erection of a temple were under
way. The fund-raising slogan adopted in 1922 also served as a time schedule, "for All To See In '23." In September of that year, services for the High Holy Days were held in their new building. The interior was unfinished. The "Bima" consisted of a raised wooden
platform with velvet draperies covering the
raw lumber. But there was fervent religious spirit within its walls. The Congregation gave their temple a truly divine name, Beth El -
House Of God.
Mr. and Mrs. Morris Rosen were among the first
and most generous of the members. Their
daughter (now Mrs. Joseph Seymour
Brown) taught Sunday School , and their sons, Jack, Allen, and Joseph learned
their "alef baiz'' from old Rabbi Wellington in the Beth Hamidrash. [ Morris
actually paid the first electric bill! Grandson
Roger Rosen is still one of our stalwarts! The family members were still active
when I was here].
Alstead was the first to occupy the pulpit and the little, 600-seat Temple
began to attract men and women in all walks of life, many from the motion
The essay goes on to list these members of the colony:
We can start with the father of all time studio chiefs, the Warner
Bros- Benjamin Warner!
This item from the Niles, Ohio, historical society, about the first
movie theater started by the sons of Benjamin Warner, who began his career as a
shoemaker. Shown in the picture at the top, Benjamin Warner, above his five
sons and to the right, the mother of the Warner Bros.https://nileshistoricalsociety.org/Warner.htm
In 10 years after the founding, father Benjamin was the President,
and he brought the studio clout to bear in the 1932 New Year’s celebration:
It would be a natural magnet for people in the
So a glance at others listed in the history
Michael Curtiz (/ k ɜːr ˈ t iː z / kur-TEEZ; born Manó
Kertész Kaminer; Hungarian: Kertész Mihály; December 24, 1886 - April 10, 1962)
was a Hungarian-American film director, recognized as one of the most prolific
directors in history.: 67 He directed classic films from the silent era and
numerous others during Hollywood's Golden Age, when the studio system was
prevalent. Movie “ Moon of Israel”- a love story between Pharaoh and an
Israelite slave. Michael Curtiz - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Michael_Curtiz
Vera Gordon, Actress: 50 Million Frenchmen. American
character actor of Russian heritage in silent films and early talkies. She
emigrated with her family to the U.S. when she was seven years old. She became
involved in the theatre even as a child and participated for several years in
the Jewish theatre in New York. At the age of 34 she was cast by Frank Borzage
in his version of 'Humoresque .
Carmel Myers, born in San Francisco, California, on April 9,
1900, left a lasting impact on Hollywood as an actress and
lavish entertainer. In a Hollywood that encouraged assimilation, she never
denied that she was Jewish. She performed in over seventy films and became
known for her vamp roles in silent films and "talkies."https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmel_Myers
In 1925, she appeared in arguably
her most famous role, that of the Egyptian vamp Iras in Ben-Hur, who
tries to seduce both Messala (Francis X. Bushman) and Ben-Hur himself (Ramón Novarro)
[For those too young to know –especially
those who never knew that Jewish women could be so attractive-- The noun vamp is
somewhat old fashioned, implying a woman who uses her charisma and beauty to
charm men into doing what she wants them to do. You can also use it as a verb,
meaning to tease or flirt, especially in a showy and manipulative way. The word
came into use in the early 1900's, from vampire. Some experts
connect the first use of vamp with the role of "The
Vampire" in the 1915 movie "A Fool There Was." https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/vamp]
Mervyn LeRoy (/ l ə ˈ r ɔɪ /; October 15, 1900 -
September 13, 1987) was an American film director, film producer and screenplay
writer. In his youth he played juvenile roles in vaudeville and silent film
comedies.. During the 1930s, LeRoy was one
of the two great practitioners of economical and effective film directing at
Warner Brothers studios, the other his cohort Michael Curtiz.
Jack Pearl, Actor.
Vaudevillian. Years active. 1932-1952. Spouse (s) Winnie Desbrought. Jack Pearl (born Jack Perlman; October 29, 1894 - December 25,
1982) was a vaudeville performer and a star of early radio. He was best known
for his character Baron Munchausen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Pearl
Edward G. Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg; Yiddish: עמנואל גאָלדנבערג;
December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973) was a Romanian-born American actor of
stage and screen during Hollywood's Golden Age. He appeared in 30 Broadway plays and more than 100 films during a 50-year
career and is best remembered for his tough-guy
roles as gangsters in such films as Little Caesar and Key Largo.
According to our records, not only
was he a long time member, but also a President.
And not just a
member and contributor, but also a knowledgeable Jew who could lead the weekday
evening services for when he commemorated a yahrzeit, wherever he went, be it
Indianapolis or Tokyo ( more said later)
From Jewish Post of Indianapolis;
He also contributed regularly to to HTBE, which
caught the attention of of McCarthy’s committee during the witch hunting for
Communists in those years.
He was caught up in the witch hunt, as a result of
his support for groups that opposed the Nazis, but as it turned out, were
affiliated with the Communist party.
Samuel Bischoff (August 11, 1890 – May 21, 1975) was an
American film producer who was responsible for more than 400
full-length films, two-reel comedies, and serials between 1922 and 1964.
George Sidney, (born October 4, 1916, New York City, New
York, U.S.—died May 5, 2002, Las Vegas, Nevada), American film director
who directed a number of the most popular movie musicals of the 1940s and ’50s,
Aweigh (1945), Annie Get Your Gun (1950), Show
Boat (1951), and Kiss Me Kate (1953)-
could also refer to his uncle, George Sidney, a noted actor in his day
Hal B. Wallis, American
motion-picture producer, associated with more than 400 feature-length films
from the late 1920s to the mid-1970s. For
three Academy Awards for best picture, director, and screenplay.“ Who can forget Bogart,” Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake” or “Here's looking at you, kid ?”
Louis Halper,brother in law to Warner Bros, helped run the studio-and
involved in production of their 1st full feature talkie.
Mike Gore, As the president and cofounder of West Coast Theaters, Gore
appropriated more than $5,000,000 in 1924 for the immediate construction of 28
new neighborhood theaters in Los Angeles. This was done to keep pace with the
area's tremendous growth. He received a star on
the Hollywood Walk of Fame for
his work in Motion pictures.
William Koenig was born on January 1, 1885 in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, USA. He is known for his work on Dance Hall (1941), Castle in the Desert (1942) and El cantante de Napoles (1935). He was married to Nancy. He
died on May 29, 1943 in Beverly Hills, California, USA.
Carl Laemmle (/ˈlɛmli/(listen);
born Karl Lämmle; January 17, 1867 – September 24, 1939) was a
German-American film producer and the co-founder and, until 1934, owner
of Universal Pictures.
He produced or worked on over 400 films.Regarded as one of the most important
of the early film pioneers. Think of The Hunchback of
Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of
The Opera (1925), both with Lon Chaney Sr. in the
title role. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Laemmle
He also personally undertook to save many Jews during the
Joseph H. Nadel (1892–1950). Producer | Production Manager | Assistant
Director. Joseph H. Nadel Picture.
Lewis Seiler (September 30, 1890 – January 8, 1964)
was an American film director. He directed more than 80 films between 1923 and
Joe Pasternak, one of Hollywood's
top film producers, assumed the office of Chairman of the Board of HTBE!
Joseph Herman Pasternak (born József Paszternák;
September 19, 1901 – September 13, 1991) was a Hungarian-born American film
producer in Hollywood. Pasternak spent the Hollywood "Golden Age" of musicals at MGM Studios, producing many successful musicals with female singing
stars like Deanna Durbin, Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell, as well as swimmer/bathing beauty Esther Williams' films. He produced Judy Garland's final MGM film, Summer Stock, which was released in 1950, and some of Gene Kelly’s early breakthrough roles. Pasternak worked in the film
industry for 45 years, from the later silent era until shortly past the end of
Hollywood cinema in the early 1960s.
This is the continuation of Bilson’s
WWII- our younger members
left to fight for Freedom's cause. Some never returned. Boys who but a few years previous had recited their bar mitzvah speeches
from our pulpit became names on the memorial tablet in the Temple's foyer -
Jacob J. Moidel,Budd Peiser, Stanley Sidell, Theodore J. Steiner, Herman
Addleson, Jerome Freman, Derrick R. Landau, Maurice W. Imberman, Bernard H.
Glogas, Leon A. Rutberg, Mieren B. Oswell, David E.
Sandler, and Sheldon Finn. May their souls rest in peace.
During the War years the Temple Sisterhood worked countless
hours sewing garments for the Red Cross. The product of their fingers kept many
warm in foxholes on the battlefronts of Europe and Asia…At War's
end, they continued to sew for the people of Israel. To their undying glory was
the "adoption" of six European orphans through the Youth Aliyah.
Moving to our new location:
From the moment Mr. and Mrs. Hyman Levine joined the
Congregation it Was evident that they were
heart-and-soul Jews who believed in religion as a way of life. Hyman Levine was
a man with vision, courage and faith. He recognized the fact that the new
Hollywood Freeway, pushing, its way relentlessly from
the East, was compelling many worshippers, whose homes were in its path,to move
from the district. He recognized, too, that the modern generation needed a more
modern building. This thought had been in the minds of most officers and board
members for many years, but it was under Mr. Levine's presidency that
the plan was activated. That the idea succeeded so well is due in a great part
to his brilliant leadership, his personal contributions, and to the encouragement
of his dear wife. Hyman Levine served as president from 1946 to 1949 and was
subsequently made Honorary Life President, an honor he shares with Samuel Tuch. To add to the driving force behind the new
project came their three sons,
Isadore, Sid [ who smuggled weapons for the Haganah and whose son Mel, became
congressman https://forward.com/news/449105/our-father-taught-us-tzedakah-one-bag-of-fish-at-a-time/ ] and Dr. Ben. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the sons and daughters of other older leaders, they represented the
youth and strength that would bring the ideas to full
fruition. In April 1948 a large lot was purchased 1317
Heights Boulevard and the new Hollywood Temple Beth El was soon in the blueprint stage. · , .
A gala fund-raising show at the Biltmore Bowl, spearheaded by
Dave Leviloff, Maurice Katleman, Hyman Levine and other Board members. Over $40,000
was raised at the Biltmore Bowl affair at which Eddie Cantor was master of ceremonies.
This was the "shot in the arm" that revitalized the entire organization.
A new slogan echoed across the Hollywood Hills, "God Willed It,
Let’s Build It!"