Guided by Jewish values, the Karsh Family Social Service Center engages Wilshire Boulevard Temple (WBT) members and community organizations to improve the lives of our underserved neighbors by providing critical social services.
The Karsh Center is located in what is now known as LA’s Koreatown neighborhood, which Wilshire Boulevard Temple has called home since 1929. Today our neighborhood is among the most ethnically diverse and fascinating in the Western United States. It is also an area where many of the residents have intensive and culturally diverse needs.
“The mission of the Jewish people,” Elie Wiesel wrote, “has never been to make the world more Jewish, but to make it more human.” If being a Jew means caring about other people, there is no better place to be west of New York than Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the Karsh Center.
“The Karsh Center helps us remember where we came from,” Wilshire Boulevard Temple Rabbi Steve Leder said. “The people seeking social services today are standing where our own immigrant grandparents and great-grandparents and generations before them also stood, yearning for dignity and freedom.”
Wilshire Boulevard Temple has a long history of responding to the needs of the city’s Jewish community since our founding in 1862 as Congregation B’nai B’rith, the first synagogue in Los Angeles. The Karsh Center is a permanent and tangible expression of the Temple’s legacy and commitment to community service; it reflects our 150 years of cultural and civic leadership in Los Angeles.
“Your Temple is living proof that Los Angeles is a cosmopolitan city where the people of all races and creeds can join freely in community enterprise. I am confident it will continue to serve as a great moral force.”
LA Mayor Fletcher Bowron, on the occasion of the Temple’s 85th anniversary in 1947
The Karsh Center itself is headquartered in a beautiful new 7,500-square-foot facility along 6th Street on the historic Erika J. Glazer Family Campus of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Named in honor of longtime Temple members, the Karsh Center is designed to meet the needs of local residents by offering an array of cross-sector, integrated, and co-located social services.
Our dream is that the Karsh Center will serve as much more than a hub for on-site social services. We expect the center to provide a catalyst for Temple members — from the children at our camps and schools to seniors seeking an opportunity to make a difference — to create or become part of the many meaningful community service initiatives sponsored by the Temple. Bikes-for-Tykes, Jews with Tools, and The Big Give are just a few of the existing community programs that started as smart ideas and grew to make a difference for thousands of people in need.
Do you have an idea? The Karsh Center can help bring it to life by connecting you with like-minded volunteers and social service organizations.
Faith-based organizations have long provided social services. The Karsh Center aims to advance the level of neighborhood support, creating a model for the 21st century. By integrating and coordinating a variety of services, the Center will maintain a platform for providers wishing to foster the highest level of care and case management for individual clients.
Through the Karsh Center, Wilshire Boulevard Temple and local organizations work together to offer comprehensive resources to the surrounding community in an easily accessible and culturally appropriate manner. The Center aims to meet the needs of all clients, regardless of ethnicity or religion, and help them achieve success in their lives, building a stronger community and stronger families in the process.
“KHEIR’s and Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s integrated, comprehensive service model will exemplify a truly collaborative partnership to strengthen individuals and neighborhoods alike in a place of tikkun olam [social justice] and interfaith understanding. With the Temple, KHEIR is committed to ‘caring for the poor, feeding the hungry and healing the sick.’”
Erin K. Pak, Chief Executive Officer
Korean Health Education Information & Research (KHEIR) Center
Without Bruce and Martha Karsh, longtime members of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, none of this would have been possible. Their generous donation helped to create the Karsh Family Social Service Center. At the groundbreaking in July 2014, Martha Karsh spoke movingly about the importance of tikkun olam — or ‘healing the world’ – to her and her family. “Tikkun olam is both a responsibility and a privilege — and, indeed, an essential family value,” she said. “We are thrilled that the Karsh Family Social Service Center will foster the Temple’s ‘good neighbor’ policy — extending a hand to those in need in the multicultural community immediately surrounding it.”
The Karsh family — including daughter Katie and sons Michael and Jeffrey, and Jeffrey’s wife, Jacki — are
especially proud of the Center’s Dr. Donald R. Lubin Eye Care Clinic. In 2013, while architectural plans for the Center were in development, Martha’s father, an eye doctor for more than half a century, died at age 88. To honor his memory, Katie came up with the idea of endowing a clinic in his name. The family embraced her vision, adding generously to their original gift to endow the Dr. Donald R. Lubin Eye Care Clinic. Martha’s mother, Sybil Lubin, made a significant gift to support the eye care clinic in honor of her husband of almost 60 years.