Sunday, November 16, 2008

No. 199 - David Familian Chapel of Temple Adat Ariel

David Familian Chapel of Temple Adat Ariel

David Familian Chapel of Temple Adat Ariel
1949 – Herman Charles Light
5540 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Valley Village – map
Declared: 9/20/78

This is the first structure built as a synagogue in the San Fernando Valley. It’s also the site of the Valley’s first bat mitzvah. The David Familian Chapel was dedicated by Rabbi Aaron M. Wise on November 7, 1949, but its congregation first congregated nearly a dozen years earlier.

David Familian Chapel of Temple Adat Ariel

On January 21, 1938, fifteen of the San Fernando Valley’s 100 Jewish families (15/100 = 15%) met in a private home and, to put together religious services and establish a Sunday school for kids and a social club for adults, founded the Valley Jewish Community Center. The congregation met in a variety of places – homes, the American Legion Hall on Magnolia Boulevard, the North Hollywood Women’s Club – before buying a former speakeasy at 12800 Chandler Boulevard around Coldwater Canyon. In 1944, Universal president Nate Blumberg and his wife, Vera, donated to the congregation a two-acre plot at the corner of Burbank and Laurel Canyon Boulevards.

Five years later, Isadore and George Familian donated the $75,000 (the single largest gift to a West Coast synagogue at the time), 350-seat chapel to VJCC in memory of their father, David. David Familian was a Russian immigrant who, after running a junk business here, switched to dealing in plumbing supplies, forming the Familian Pipe and Supply Co. One of Los Angeles’s leading philanthropists, he later bought out Price-Pfister Brass Mfg. Co.

David Familian Chapel of Temple Adat Ariel

Herman Charles Light designed the synagogue. Alfred Lushing built it, and Mischa Kallis, an art director at Universal, with Rabbi Wise designed the eleven stained-glass windows depicting major Jewish holidays. I wish I could’ve gotten a better picture of them. (I left a phone call there, but never was called back.)

David Familian Chapel of Temple Adat Ariel

The congregation outgrew the Familian Chapel and by 1968 a new, 1,500-seat sanctuary had been built and dedicated. The Valley’s oldest synagogue continues to be used for services, weddings, lectures, and concerts. Today the Valley Jewish Community Center is known as Adat Ari El (Hebrew for ‘Lion of God Congregation’), and this section of North Hollywood is called Valley Village (Angelino for ‘No, Really, Not North Hollywood’).

David Familian Chapel of Temple Adat Ariel

Governor Gray Davis proclaimed November 7, 1999, “David Familian Chapel Day”. Two months earlier The David Familian Chapel was made a California State Landmark. Unfortunately, Rabbi Aaron M. Wise, who not only was responsible for VJCC’s national reputation but also championed equal rights for women and marched with Martin Luther King, had died that July.

David Familian Chapel of Temple Adat Ariel


“Familian Chapel Consecrated at Jewish Center” The Los Angeles Times; Nov 9, 1949, p. A3

“Valley Jewish Center Celebrates 25th Year” The Los Angeles Times; Aug 18, 1962, p. B8

“Valley Jewish Center Dedication Scheduled” The Los Angeles Times; Jan 7, 1968, p. O12

Oliver, Myrna “Aaron Wise; Civil Rights Leader, Rabbi of Influential Synagogue” The Los Angeles Times, Jul 8, 1999, A16

Andres, Holly J. “Valley’s Oldest Synagogue; Dignitaries to Gather Sunday at Chapel’s 50th Anniversary” Daily News; Nov 6, 1999, p. N.20

Liu, Caitlin “Jewish Cahpel’s 50th Anniversary Marked” The Los Angeles Times; Nov 8, 1999

McLellan, Dennis “Isadore Familian, 90; Philanthropist” The Record; Jun 16, 2002, p. L.07

Up next: Second Baptist Church Building


soymlk said...

I liked Familian Pipe and Supply a lot more than I like Fergusons. They are owned by the Wolseley company and are a bit too corporate. They also own Stock Lumber, which I do quite a bit of business with.

It is nice to see the family companies, like Familian, giving back to the community.

I never knew that Familian also owned Price Pfister Brass Manufacturing Company.

Thanks for the landmark blog, very interesting.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

You know, I didn't even check to see if Familian Pipe and Supply were still around. Thanks, Soymlk.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it was Valley Jewish Community Center (VJCC) not JVCC

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Why did I get it right the first time then switch it from then on? Thanks for the catch, Anonymous.

Unknown said...

Was VJCC founded as an Orthodox, Conservative or a Reform temple?