Pret-a-Reporter

L.A.'s Power Synagogues

It's holiday back-to-shul time! From a progressive coastal retreat to a registered landmark, these temples are where the industry goes to worship.

During the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 28 to 30) and Yom Kippur (Oct. 7 to 8), Hollywood becomes noticeably quieter as many showbiz-types duck out of the office and into temple to celebrate the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar. And like most things in Tinseltown, where you go is almost as important as what you do. While Los Angeles is home to countless esteemed synagogues, only a select few institutions have the blessing of both Adonai and industry elite. Veteran-producer Jerry Weintraub and rock royalty Bob Dylan and his son Jakob prefer their local Malibu temple (Chabad of Malibu); and WME head Ari Emanuel and his wife, Sarah, attend services at the Leo Baeck Temple on Sepulveda alongside Barbra Streisand and her longtime songwriting team, Marilyn and Alan Bergman. While these holy days serve as an occasion for members to celebrate the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and reflect on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), it's inevitable that things will get interesting when you worship with those you work with. TV comedies haven't been shy of acknowledging that the sacred and the worldly sometimes collide. During season three of HBO's Entourage, Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold is reprimanded for crashing a Yom Kippur service at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple to discuss money with a studio head. And in a 2005 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David tries to scalp tickets to a service so exclusive that it sold out months in advance. (Some synagogues do require reservations for tickets.) If there is one place where industry-ites keep their Hollywood urges in check though, this is it. "I was at Temple Israel in Hollywood for Rosh Hoshanah," says an unnamed congregant, "and decided it was better not to tweet that I was sitting near Jeremy Piven and Leonard Nimoy."

Leo Baeck Temple 
1300 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Founded: 1947
Affiliation: Reform
Notable Members: Ari Emanuel, Barbra Streisand and Marilyn & Alan Bergman

Sixteen years after its formation, the congregation moved to its permanent West L.A. home on 10 acres alongside the 405 Freeway. The temple is a popular destination on High Holy Days, so tickets are required for worship.

Stephen S. Wise Temple
15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive
Founded: 1964
Affiliation: Reform
Notable Members: Peter Guber, Ed Asner, Michael Ovitz, Jonathan Dolgen

Boasting more than 3,000 members, the Bel-Air temple is one of L.A.'s more scenic synagogues (many credit its beautiful hilltop locale for its fast-growing congregation) and sits on nearly 18 acres. Temple cantor Nathan Lam doubles as a voice coach and has worked with Michelle Pfeiffer and Rod Stewart.

Kehillat Israel
16019 Sunset Blvd.
Founded: 1950
Affiliation: Reconstructionist
Notable Members: Adam Sandler, Bob Saget

The environmentally conscious, 1,000-household-strong Pacific Palisades synagogue, which started a carbon-free initiative three years ago, opened its new building in October 1997. Saget has done stand-up at numerous events. "He once admitted to me that temple shows are the hardest to do because he has to censor himself," Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben told the Jewish Journal in 2008.

Chabad of Malibu
22943 Pacific Coast Highway
Founded: 1994
Affiliation: Unaffiliated
Notable Members: Jerry Weintraub, Bob Dylan, Jakob Dylan

There's no need to scalp tickets for services at this temple in laid-back Malibu, which boasts a "no reservations needed" policy.

Temple Israel of Hollywood
7300 Hollywood Blvd.
Founded: 1926
Affiliation: Reform
Notable Members: Writer-producer Jill Soloway, Jeremy Piven and the late Elizabeth Taylor (who was converted to Judaism by the temple's Rabbi Max Nussbaum in 1959), Leonard Nimoy, Phil Rosenthal.

Hollywood heavyweights Sol M. Wurtzel, Isadore Bernstein and Edward Laemmle founded the temple and soon began hosting its famed Midnight Show featuring such talents as Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Jack Benny. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the temple in February 1965.

Temple of the Arts
8440 Wilshire Blvd.
Founded: 1992
Affiliation: Unaffiliated
Notable Members: Brett Ratner, Jason Alexander, Sela Ward, Larry King, Steve Tisch, Peter Morton

Founded by Rabbi David Baron, the temple's 1,900-seat Saban Theatre doubles as an entertainment venue (Joan Rivers, Carol Burnett and Marlo Thomas recently performed there). Baron, who appeared in the 2004 Universal comedy Along Came Polly as a fictional rabbi, calls his 2,000-member congregation "the largest arts and entertainment temple in the U.S."

Temple Beth Am
1039 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Founded: 1934
Affiliation: Conservative
Notable Members: Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson, producer Gabriel Brener. Mare Winningham and Monty Hall have attended services here.

Before construction of its main sanctuary in the 1950s, the temple held services at such since-razed movie palaces as the Circle and the Lido. To raise money for the new building, the synagogue held a fund-raiser emceed by MGM president Dore Schary that featured comedian and actor Danny Thomas.

Kabbalah Centre of Los Angeles 
1062 S. Robertson Blvd.
Founded: 1984
Affiliation: Unaffiliated
Notable Members: Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Madonna

Kabbalah, a belief system focused on mystical interpretation of the Bible, gathered much media attention (and controversy) in the early 2000s after such celebrities as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton aligned themselves with the center (neither remain as members). On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, Kutcher and his reportedly estranged wife, Moore, sent a message to the press when they were photographed attending services here together.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple
3663 Wilshire Blvd.
Founded: 1862
Affiliation: Reform
Notable Members: The Pritzker family, founders of Hyatt hotels, and Shamrock Holdings president Stanley Gold, CAA's Richard Lovett and ICM's Chris Silbermann are close with senior Rabbi Steven Leder.

Showbiz moguls Louis B. Mayer, Carl Laemmle and Warner brothers Jack, Harry and Albert donated funds to help construct the landmark temple and its famed dome (which boasts a Hugo Ballin mural commissioned in 1929). The temple is raising funds for a reported $100 million renovation. Leder is author of the 2004 book More Money Than God: Living a Rich Life Without Losing Your Soul.

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