B'nai David-Judea's home was once a grand movie theatre called the Fox Stadium Theatre. The theatre was designed in the late 1920s by architects Carl and Robert Boller. The Boller brothers, originally from Kansas City, specialized in theatre design in the Midwest. They began in 1905, designing theatres for the Vaudeville circuit.
In 1921, Carl moved to Los Angeles, where he designed three theatres (the Fox Stadium, the Fontana, and the Corona Theatre). The Fontana Theatre still stands and is used for performing arts, as does the Corona, which is now a church. Our building has functioned as a shul since 1964, when Rabbi Philip Schroit, z''l, moved the congregation to the former movie palace. As the population and neighborhood changed, a generation of young Modern Orthodox families defined a new identity for our congregation.
In 1996, we were blessed with the intellect and energy of Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, who leads us as we strive to be a beacon for Modern Orthodoxy in Los Angeles. We were now ready to put our stamp on this building, to make it work for us and for our children, for the elderly and for the disabled. Rabbi Kanefsky and executive director Amram Hassan took the reins to allow our space to undergo an incredible transformation:
The Rabbi Philip Schroit* Main Sanctuary
*Of Blessed Memory
The floor of the main sanctuary was redesigned to increase disability access. A ramp leads from the seating area to the Aron (Ark) and the Bima (altar) was connected by a ramp down the center of the sanctuary. That ramp now serves as part of the newly designed Mechitza (gender separation), which will run down the center of the sanctuary, giving women and men equally dignified prayer spaces.
Our prayer atmosphere was be enhanced by the addition of windows to let in natural light. The seats were reupholstered and new carpet and paint were added. The art deco molding, accents and chandeliers received a much needed cleaning and treatment, and the curtains were replaced by a wall.
The renovations to the courtyard that leads up to Rechov Yeladim, our children's program, improved the safety and aesthetics of this vital walkway.
The entire courtyard was re-plastered, repainted, and outfitted with improved lighting.
The current metal doors were replaced with wood and glass doors. The walkways to the sanctuary, the Beit Medrash (small chapel), and the new East Lobby are now accessible using a gradual ramping system that is incorporated into these walkways.
Beit Medrash (Small Chapel)
The primary entrance to the Beit Medrash is now off the courtyard, accessible from the East Lobby and the Sanctuary.
New tables, chairs, bookshelves and display cases compliment the room's original art deco features, which include restored art deco mini chandeliers similar to those in the main sanctuary.
The building façade was painted to capture the original art deco elegance. Some of the original façade details were restored. A stone base was added to the building as well as new lighting for the exterior. All exterior doors were replaced with wood and glass doors that maximize natural light to the building's interior.
All window casings on the Pico façade were cleaned and painted. The glass in the windows was replaced to allow more light into the building, while preserving safety.
New wood and glass doors now open into the facility's main lobby from the front and from the alley to maximize natural light. The current lobby restrooms are now expanded to be fully accessible to people with disabilities.
The sanctity of the names on our Yahrzeit Boards is of paramount importance to our community. These names were preserved, with special attention to retaining the dignity of the memory of those listed.*Special thanks to Reyna Zack Photography for this photo