Beth Shir Shalom: A Colorful History
The streets of a densely populated, but quiet, neighborhood in Santa Monica, just north of Wilshire and within two miles of the beach, are lined with flourishing trees and a mix of stucco apartment buildings and houses. It is a neighborhood that typifies the area…. except for one thing; nestled in the middle of it sits a very active temple called Beth Shir Shalom (BSS).
Beth Shir Shalom’s history began with a small Jewish congregation that had been gathering in the Unitarian Church of Santa Monica for Shabbat services. On January 17 of 1939, 14 members of that congregation decided to meet in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Markowitz to discuss a plan to build a synagogue. With a loan partially funded by MGM movie mogul, Louis B. Mayer, the two-story building was constructed at the northwest corner of 19th & California Streets. It was named “Beth Sholom Temple,” glimmering as a shining light in those dark days leading up to WWII and the Nazi horror. The first Shabbat service was held on May 1, 1942. Laurence A. Block, a teacher of religion and philosophy at Santa Monica College, became the Temple’s spiritual leader in 1949, serving Beth Sholom for the next 28 years.
A place for life-long learning
From our Early Childhood Center to our Adult B’ney Mitzvah class, from JELLI to Torah Study, there is always learning happening at Beth Shir Shalom, whether you are 18 months old or a 95-year-old!
Beth Shir Shalom has a completely revamped educational program which we lovingly call JELLI (the Jewish Experiential Living and Learning Initiative).
Our program meets Sunday mornings, with an optional Hebrew support Tuesday for grades 3-6. Our new curriculum is a hands-on, project based learning program filled with opportunities for children to discover, create, build, and own their Jewish experiences.
At Beth Shir Shalom, Jewish Education is Life Education, and we guide our students toward discovering all the ways that Jewish knowledge helps them find their better selves.