Photo by Andrew Roman
Photo by Andrew Roman

About one hundred people”” some, community members, and others from outside the city”” filled the rear building of the Breed Street Shul to celebrate its open house last Tuesday evening.

The event was the second of its kind since the rehabilitation of the Breed Street Shul was completed in early November. The Shul, once a thriving synagogue, has been now revived as a community center.

The night opened with a short tour of the large sanctuary space and with remarks from Stephen Sass, Chair of the Breed Street Shul Project. Other speakers included board members of the Shul Project and the California Historical Society.

The Boyle Heights Historical Society had an exhibit of photos and essays on display titled “Boyle Heights Images and Essays 1850-1900” featuring photos of the Hollenbeck family and of Andrew A. Boyle, from whom the neighborhood gets its name.

The Shul plays an important role in the history of Boyle Heights, says Anthea Hartig, the Executive Director of the California Historical Society. “The layers of time, of beauty and of tragedy are elegantly pictured here,” Hartig says.

The Breed Street Shul opens its doors./ Photo Andrew Roman.

Malissa Strong, President of the Boyle Heights Historical Society, agrees and says that the Shul helps contextualize history and lets the community know where its roots are.

One of the focal points of the evening was the mural in the rear building, which has now been restored. Griswold Conservation Associates spent nearly five months restoring the mural, which had been vandalized with graffiti.

To conserve culture, create stories, and bring together people of different ethnicities is an important part of the idea behind the Shul rehabilitation.

Even though Paul Vann didn’t belong to the Shul while growing up, he says he feels a connection to the Shul. The Jewish faith is “as important as any other faith; it’s not more important, [or] less important,” said Vann. If people live the way they are taught, “the world is a better place.”

Look for a story on the history and rehabilitation of The Breed Street Shul coming later this month in the next print edition of The Boyle Heights Beat.

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