L.A.'s Power Synagogues: Where the Industry Goes to Worship
This article first appeared in the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
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."