Times' Joseph Berger Profiles the Actors’ Temple in NYC

The Actor's Temple is one of the many colorful synagogues in NYC. Joseph Berger wrote a wonderful story about that shul in the Times.

It seems these actors need money. Hmm. On the West Coast, actors are giving generously to their temple in LA. The Los Angeles Times reports on what may be the most expensive renovation for a Temple or Synagogue -- a $175-million renovation and redevelopment project as we blogged in October. Indeed.
Once a Realm of Stars, a Temple Is Now Bereft of Them, and Their Money

Here is how the Actors’ Temple went from being an Orthodox synagogue to a Conservative one — at least for a time.

Sophie Tucker, the self-proclaimed “Last of the Red Hot Mamas” who was famous for her vaudeville renditions of “Some of These Days,” and “My Yiddishe Momme,” was sitting in the women’s balcony during the High Holy Days and spotted a wealthy woman she was acquainted with enter the men’s section below to pray with her husband, causing something of a stir. The formidable Tucker rose, marched downstairs and joined her, making an emphatic statement that the rabbi was loath to challenge. This was Sophie Tucker, after all. From then on, more women and men sat together in the Conservative custom, or so goes the story as told by the congregation’s current rabbi, who happens to be a woman, Jill Hausman.

The Actors’ Temple, sandwiched among the low-rise buildings of West 47th Street in Manhattan’s theater district, is rich with such tales about its celebrated worshipers, entertainers like Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Red Buttons, Eddie Cantor, Eddie Fisher, Al Jolson, Shelley Winters and two of the Three Stooges. They had started from the bottom of the industry, after growing up in observant Jewish homes, and, even if they had changed their names and outer shells, they wanted to reconnect once or twice a year, maybe even accepting the honor of a call to bless the Torah. Edward G. Robinson, who played the mobster “Little Caesar,” donned a prayer shawl to lead a service... more...

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