Funding Will Transform Historic Landmark into Shared Multipurpose Space Serving the Boyle Heights Community, Strengthen Dialogue and Cooperation Between the Latino and Jewish Communities in Los Angeles
- Dana Alpert
- Legislative/Communications Assistant
BOYLE HEIGHTS, CA — Today, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), in partnership with leaders from the Latino and Jewish communities, announced $14.9 million in state funding to renovate the century-old Breed Street Shul, a landmark of major historical and cultural significance in Boyle Heights. The budget allocation will completely transform the campus into a shared multipurpose space that will provide important services to the local community, highlight the rich and diverse immigrant history of the Boyle Heights neighborhood, and strengthen connection, dialogue, and cooperation between the Latino and Jewish communities in Los Angeles.
“The Breed Street Shul is a powerful symbol of the shared immigrant experience that connects so many communities across California,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. “Transforming this historic landmark will provide us with a unique opportunity to celebrate our shared history, build bridges, and strengthen cooperation and dialogue between the Latino and Jewish communities in Los Angeles. The Jewish Caucus is proud to have partnered with our allies in the Latino Caucus to help secure funding for this important effort.”
“I am proud to have supported this budget request for the Breed Street Shul,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago. “The Shul once served as a place of worship and a community hub over half a century ago, and with this allocation, we can turn this beautiful and historic building into a cultural and community center once again. This is an important investment for the Boyle Heights community as a whole.”
The Breed Street Shul was a hub for Jewish life in Los Angeles from the 1920s through the 1950s, serving as a major center of civic, social, and philanthropic activity. At that time, Boyle Heights was home to the city's largest Jewish community as well as many kosher butchers, bakeries, delis, bookstores, and other Jewish businesses. The Shul was at one time the largest Orthodox synagogue west of Chicago.
Beginning in the 1980s, the Shul’s two buildings fell victim to neglect, vandalism, and earthquake damage, with the final services being held in 1996. A broad coalition of community members organized to prevent demolition of the Shul and to develop a long-term plan for rehabilitation. The Shul’s original 1915 building reopened in November 2011, with aspirations for broader renovation and renewal.
The current renovation plan, which was developed based on feedback from local community members, includes:
- Converting the light-filled basement of the main sanctuary into offices for nonprofits that will provide services to the local Boyle Heights community;
- Creating a large performance and meeting space in the former sanctuary;
- Constructing a permanent exhibition that showcases the history of immigration to Boyle Heights through the eyes of the Latino, Jewish, Japanese, Black, Armenian, and Russian communities; and
- Improving access for individuals with disabilities and completing a retrofit for seismic stability.
Community Leaders React to the Breed Street Shul Budget Achievement
- “We will be forever grateful to Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, who represents the Shul’s Boyle Heights neighborhood, for their leadership and tireless efforts to allocate these critically-needed funds. The state’s allocation will be truly transformative in realizing our shared vision to preserve and renew these architecturally and culturally iconic historic resources to serve the Boyle Heights, Jewish, and wider communities, and build on the longstanding collaboration between Latinx and Jewish elected officials and volunteers to secure the Shul’s future.” - Stephen J. Sass, Founding President of the Breed Street Shul Project
- “It’s exciting to learn about the rebuilding of this historic space. It speaks to the beauty of the people of Los Angeles and the story of Boyle Heights history. A monumental community to Los Angeles’ immigrant story—one that many of our families can relate too. I’m excited for this investment and for the on site community center that will house much needed social services. I look forward to seeing this as a bridge between the communities it serves and creating more history for our children to see. It will take all of us to work together to continue to serve this wonderful community of Boyle Heights.” - Brenda Hernández, Executive Director of the Boyle Heights YMCA