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A crumbling synagogue in a neighborhood long ago abandoned by the Jewish community just received millions of dollars from the State of California. At a time when the state faces urgent needs for affordable housing, homeless services and drought relief, you might ask: “A synagogue?”
On Aug. 10, the Breed Street Shul Project announced that California’s recently passed 2021 budget includes a $14.9 million allocation for the restoration of the historic Breed Street Shul in the Boyle Heights neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles.
Supporters of the largesse say the money will pay for much more than the rehabilitation of an old shul.
The money, said Stephen Sass, president of the Breed Street Shul Project, will not only renew a “culturally iconic historic” building but will spur collaboration among the Jewish, Latino and other minority communities in Boyle Heights and throughout the city.
LOS ANGELES (RNS) — The Breed Street Shul, once considered an epicenter of Jewish life in the western United States, has been granted $14.9 million in state funding to renovate its century-old buildings.
California legislators said the state budget allocation will help transform Breed Street Shul — heralded as the religious and cultural anchor of the early Jewish community in the Eastside of LA — into a shared multipurpose space that will honor the area’s Jewish and multicultural history as well as the current neighborhood’s mostly Latino residents.
The shul, which encompasses two buildings in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places and is the last of the Eastside synagogues to remain open after postwar-era population shifts.
“This was at one time the center of Jewish life in the city of Los Angeles, the center of Jewish life in the western United States,” said Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat who chairs the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, at a Tuesday (Aug. 10) gathering to announce the grant. “So much of our history as a community traces back to here in Boyle Heights.”
State Legislators Secure Nearly $15 Million to Restore Historic Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights
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
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The century-old Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights is getting a new lease on life thanks to millions in dollars championed by California’s Jewish and Latino lawmakers to renovate the historic landmark.
Nearly $15 million in state funding was announced Tuesday to transform the historic, cultural monument into a multipurpose space and highlight the rich and diverse immigrant history of the Latino and Jewish communities in the Boyle Heights neighborhood.
The California Jewish Legislative Caucus this year was able to push through several of its priorities benefiting the state’s Jewish communities, including funding for a Holocaust and antisemitism training program run by S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services and for a grant-making program for nonprofits looking to improve their security.
When Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Budget Act of 2021 into law on July 12, it included $14.9 million to the City of Los Angeles for restoration of the Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights, a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places that has languished in disrepair for years.
The nearly $15 million appropriation from the state budget is a culmination of many years of political grassroots support, led by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), Chair of the California Legislative Caucus. Gabriel worked to secure support from Latino and Jewish members of the Legislature as well to champion the cause, with Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, who represents parts of Boyle Heights in the legislature, also instrumental in securing the funding.
Gabriel’s interest in preserving the Shul started long before he became an Assemblyman three years ago. Gabriel had toured the surrounding neighborhood and the Shul itself while working with The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles.
Legislators in California and Florida have directed major new funding to Jewish organizations and causes in their upcoming budgets.
California’s proposed 2021-2022 budget includes $50 million to boost security for non-profit organizations such as synagogues and Jewish schools, while Florida is providing a $1 million dollar grant to the Jewish Federation of Sarasota- Manatee.
Also in the California budget is $13.5 million designated toward Holocaust education.
“The budget agreement adopted by the State Senate and State Assembly provides significant increases in funding for top Jewish community priorities, including enhancing the security of vulnerable Jewish community institutions, supporting the work of major Jewish social services agencies, and strengthening Holocaust education across the State of California,” read a statement from the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.
(JTA) — Citing the recent spike in antisemitic attacks, the Jewish caucus in the California State Legislature has secured $50 million to help protect nonprofits and $10 million for an exhibit on antisemitism at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
The total allocated for Jewish or Jewish-related causes in the 2021-22 state budget is $80 million.
Amid Rising Antisemitism, California Budget Includes Significant Funding for Nonprofit Security Grants, Social Services, and Holocaust Education