Yesterday, there was a very interesting article in the LA Times concerning the need for a park in Koreatown. Quoting from the beginning of that article:
The people of Koreatown were on the brink of getting something urban planners and psychologists said Los Angeles’ most densely packed neighborhood desperately needed: A public outdoor space for respite in a booming urban corridor increasingly smothered in concrete and glass.
Now, five years later, a 346-unit luxury apartment building dubbed the Pearl on Wilshire is taking root where Koreatown Central Park was slated to go. It will have a dog wash, yoga room, putting green and spa, but not so much as a park bench for public use.
And as heavy equipment roars and beeps at the once-vacant lot at Wilshire and Hobart boulevards, people familiar with the abandoned project are left to wonder: Who’s to blame for letting a park die in this neighborhood where residents have about one-hundredth of the park space as the average Angeleno citywide?
Most people read this and moved on. Me? My eyes stopped on the phrase “the once-vacant lot at Wilshire and Hobart boulevards”. I grew up at Wilshire Blvd Temple (WBT). WBT is located on Wilshire Blvd, between Hobart and Harvard. Next to it to the east is a major catholic church. Wilshire, in fact, now owns all the land betwen Hobart and Harvard, between Wilshire and Sixth, and operates an outreach and support center for the community on the Sixth Street end.
Here’s my question: What is the Jewish obligation in this issue? Should WBT (and its neighbor, St. Basil’s) be speaking up for the park. Should they have been lobbying for the park. Going back to when I attended Wilshire in the 1970s and 1980s, that land was vacant. Should Wilshire have tried to purchase it for the community? How does one balance the responsibility to your community of faith with the responsibility to the community at large?
I’m not sure I know the answer, and I’m not sure they could have made a difference. But I thought the question was an interesting one.