“Beit Midrash Srere” (בית מדרש שרירא) of Los Angeles, founded in 1922. This modest old synagogue was once one of over 30-some Jewish congregations in and around the area of Boyle Heights, east Los Angeles.
Though many of us know the larger shuls of the area, its important to keep in mind that many local Jewish congregations of the classic era operated from store-fronts and mere shteibles – little buildings, small houses like this. As struggling immigrants, that was the best many of them could afford at the time.
And so it is to this day in this community, that we have many immigrant churches operating from store-fronts and re-purposed synagogues.
Though small, each of these congregations have in their own way left a lasting mark on the area. Something which needs to be recognized and celebrated.
We are taking some video and pictures of this site today, because it has gotten a major make-over. This building is looking better than it has in years!
Though its sad to see that few of the original Jewish fixtures remain here.
I’m told by people who grew up on the block that many Christian groups have come and gone over the years, trying to change the gates and remove the Star is David from the building. And that city officials and Jewish groups didn’t let them.
One group had removed the gates with the Star of David on them.
Though the more recently crafted gates have been decoratively adorned with both crosses and Jewish stars, which are inlaid into them.
I think it’s really important to maintain these treasures of the past to the greatest extent we can, because these are living examples of our diverse past. Many of these sites have their Jewish elements historically registered, some of these buildings even come with the sales contract stipulating of them not to make changes which would jeopardize the historical integrity of the sites. But I’m learning that this is something which is hard to maintain when the building has changed hands so many times.
Today it is a Spanish speaking church, called “Iglesia Cristiana Roca de Salvación.”
Interestingly, one of the Christian groups which occupied this site at one time was the “Iglesia Cristiana Hebreos,” a Spanish-speaking Hebrew-Christian congregation, a form of Latino messianic church.
It should be noted that there are actually a few Jewish sites in the neighborhood which have been well maintained by Messianic sects or churches which feel great affection for the Jewish symbolism.
Hopefully soon we will explore more of these sites together as well!
Shalom from the eastside!