Originating in Boyle Heights, the large Jewish community in Venice took root in the early twentieth century, first drawn to the amusement piers. After the decline of the parks, the younger generations in the community moved to seek greater opportunities, while the older community stayed in Venice. The Pacific Jewish Center struggled as Jewish establishments and synagogues closed, and as the Venice boardwalk transformed from a broken beach community into a bustling strip, the center became the last synagogue in Venice.
One side of the center is the Phoenix House, a drug rehabilitation center, and on the other a novelty shop called "Unruly". Despite the diverse mix, young Rabbi Fink remains stoic, and with the veracity of a salesman continues to encourage and invite newcomers, eager to maintain and increase the ever fading Jewish community in Venice.
Migrating to Venice
People saw the opportunity of coming to Venice with small weekend huts as an opportunity to get away for the whole weekend. The Jewish community took this very well and soon there were six synagogues here on the boardwalk.
In the seventies and eighties young Jewish people discovered their roots and began searching for meaning in the faith they inherited, but knew little about.
Israel Levin Center
As they grew older they moved into certain properties that were low-cost housing, such as the Cadillac Hotel and other small apartments. The place was loaded with seniors.
A Place of Contrast
"Being on the Venice Boardwalk gives us the most unique place in the world for a Shul. Our location is so special. On the one side we have a store that used to be called "Sexcetera", and then on the other side we have a very successful drug rehab center and also a halfway house."
One of the challenges for Orthodox Judaism is the limitation of working and creative activity on the Sabbath. Eruv is a concept in which we would be able to unite all the domains in this area so that we can push a stroller or a wheelchair to the Shul.