For 100 years, a temple in the middle of the Theater District has been a place of worship for Jewish performers. But as NY1's Michael Scotto reports, it is looking for some showbiz magic to bring it back to its former glory.
The Actors' Temple is a synagogue that caters to the people who love the lights of the theater.
"I was completely thrilled to see this little jewel of a shul in the middle of the Broadway district," said Carol Ostrow, the president of this unique synagogue, which celebrates its centennial this month.
In many ways, it's a miracle this house of worship is still around.
"People are not so interested in religion anymore. They're too busy with their work, their children. They don't come and pray," Ostrow said.
In its heyday, the big names came through, entertainers who came from observant, often immigrant, Jewish homes: The Marx Brothers, Sophie Tucker, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Shelly Winters and Joe Franklin, to name just a few. Some are remembered with memorial tablets or stained glass windows.
Jewish entertainers today belong to other synagogues, if they affiliate at all. This temple no longer has star power.
But it is starting to climb back, from five dues-paying members a decade ago to 150 now, thanks to people like comedian Bob Greenberg, who started attending services eight years ago.
"I'm kind of Jewish-lite," Greenberg said. "I know, I don't look light. I'm kind of like Jewish-lite. It's more cultural for me."
New members are helping to pay for the growing list of costs.
One of the challenges the congregation faces is the expensive upkeep of the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Our beautiful stained glass windows that are on the front of the building were falling down. It cost us $100,000," Ostrow said.
As it looks to the future, the temple hopes to continue growing. Doing that will mean convincing Broadway actors to start praying when they're not performing.