The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article today on Wilshire Blvd. Temple. Now, I grew up at Wilshire, which is near the intersection of Wilshire and Western, in what is now Koreatown. According to the article, one day WBT got a call from Koreatown leaders wondering if the building was for sale. Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein responded “We can’t sell you the temple, but how about building a relationship?”. From there, dialogue between the communities started, leading to much better understanding. The Koreatown community received an invitation to use Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s facilities, which include an 1,800-seat sanctuary, a 600-seat auditorium and a 300-seat banquet hall, at member rates… and the two communities will also join forces to address issues affecting the Koreatown community, such as crime, poverty, the granting of multiple liquor licenses and the idea that growth should take place in a thoughtful way.
I think this is a wonderful thing. The WBT facility is a beautiful facility, and it is nice to see that (a) it is committeed to staying, and (b) committed to forging a relationship with the community. This is something that was never even discussed during the days of Rabbi Magnin… and I’m not even sure Rabbi Fields considered it. I think that interfaith activities are a remarkable way of building community (and it is one of the reasons I applaud Rabbi Jim at TBH for his work building relationships with the churches in Arleta).