Pico-Robertson Update

Real estate values of the average Pico-Robertson home are down about 25% from the peak in 2006. Prime Beverlywood property is holding up well. Rents are under pressure. Vacancies are up even though the population hasn’t declined. Rents are down about 15% in Pico-Robertson from the 2006 peak.

People are moving into smaller places and sharing space. Unemployment is way up. Hardly a family in Pico-Robertson is unaffected.

Every shul is financially struggling and cutting back though membership numbers are strong.

Young Israel of Century City did not replace Rabbi Weiner when he left.

Mogen David is stable.

We appear to be in a long deep recession akin to the 1930s.

Jewish day schools are in serious trouble. Canfield Elementary School on Canfield and Airdrome now has about 45 Orthodox kids.

We may be seeing a return to the Talmud Torah model of the 1930s, a traditional after-school and Sunday program education in Torah while kids go to public schools.

Many of the most prominent Jews in town went to Hamilton High School and Fairfax High. We may be returning to those days.

Rabbi Kalman Topp is a winner at Beth Jacob. He’s warm, personable, lovable. His Saturday morning parsha shiurim are a hit, drawing a crowd close to 100. He presents dazzling insights into the parsha.

The main sanctuary at Beth Jacob is doing OK on Shabbos morning. The jury is still out on the new chazzen. He’s a world-class chazzan. He’s a mentch. He’s warm, sweet, nice. Beth Jacob asked for a chazzan and they got a chazzan. He’s doing everything he promised. I’m not sure the congregants are now sure they want a real chazzan. They might want more congregational singing. The idea of a chazzan was more attractive than its reality.

Beth Jacob has not had a chazzan since Rabinovitzch and that was about 15 years ago. Avshalom Katz, the last chazzan, was not your classic chazzan. He was a great leader of prayer.

Beth Jacob’s Kol Nidre service this year in the main sanctuary was stellar, and that comment came from people who don’t generally like cantors.

Rabbi Steven Weil has assumed a low profile at Beth Jacob. He’s around socially. He’s sensitively and elegantly stayed out of the way at Beth Jacob. What could’ve been a difficult situation is a very easy one thanks to Rabbi Weil’s impeccable behavior.

Rabbi Weil is still in his early days with the Orthodox Union and I feel that there’s a lot of love on all sides. It’s weird for him to live in LA and then fly to New York every week to work, but he did something great for his kids.

"The RCC has the audacity to rule on business issues they don’t have the faintest idea about," says a businessman. "More and more people are shying away from them. Why would you put your fate in their hands? There’s no right to appeal. You’re leaving it to people who have never been in business, never had to meet a payroll. They study from a legal system that is a few thousand years old."

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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