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The Jewish Pass

The Growth of Jewish Institutions in Los Angeles' Sepulveda Pass

Erik Greenberg, Author

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The University of Judaism Part II: A Home in the Hills

DESPITE THE ENTREATIES of local UJ booster Peter Kahn, after its initial purchase of the building at 6th and Ardmore, the Jewish Theological Seminary would not invest in UJ infrastructure for almost two decades.  In 1955, the institution began a northwestward climb from the flats of Los Angeles into the Hollywood Hills and then to the Santa Monica Mountains.  

IN 1955 THE UNIVERSITY moved north and west to 6525 Sunset Boulevard, the site of the former site of the  Hollywood Athletic Club.  By most reports, during the UJ's twenty-two year tenure at their "Sunset Campus" the building began to fall into disrepair.  But of greater importance, the building at 6525 Sunset could not accommodate the work of the university. The institution required a facility built to address their programming and their operational needs.

THE OPPORTUNITY to create such a building arrived in 1967 when Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin of Stephen S. Wise Temple approached UJ leadership with a proposition.  Zeldin and his temple leadership had located a plot of land on the east side of the Sepulveda Pass on which to build a permanent structure for their growing congregation.  As with Leo Baeck Temple, the completion of the San Diego Freeway in 1962 through the pass made the purchase of land in this, once-remote location more attractive. Still, the Stephen S. Wise congregation could not afford to make the purchase alone. Zeldin convinced the UJ leadership to purchase the land in tandem with Stephen S. Wise Temple. 

WHILE THE POWERS THAT BE at the Stephen S. Wise Temple immediately set to preparing the land and building the structures for its new religious center, the UJ and the Conservative Movement took their time.  A financial commitment to build a Conservative camp (Camp Ramah in Ojai, CA) had taxed finances, and it would take some time before the new UJ could be built atop the Sepulveda Pass. Still, groundbreaking would begin in 1973. A decade after the purchase of land and after four years of construction, in 1977 the University of Judaism's Familian campus was open for business.

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