Joyous gathering held at the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue

The Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue held a Spring Fundraiser and Groundbreaking Ceremony to celebrate with the community on the new campus building that will replace the temporary trailer. Photos by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

The Jewish community and friends celebrate groundbreaking on new campus

The Malibu Jewish community, and its friends and supporters joyously gathered Friday afternoon at a groundbreaking ceremony for an expansion to the Malibu campus.

After years of planning, temporary trailers parked on site since 1992 housing the center’s offices, classrooms, and a chapel will be replaced with permanent structures. Twenty thousand square feet will be added across two buildings. One will house offices, meeting rooms, music room, state-of-the art classrooms, and a library. The building will also provide a dedicated space for the center’s renowned Hand in Hand program that connects people of all abilities in a socially integrated program. 

Also, importantly, a new preschool will be brought back to life at the site. The crowd of 150 applauded at hearing the news. In 2007 the preschool hosted the old Malibu Presbyterian’s preschool that was destroyed along with the church in the Corral Fire. The project will also feature a 12,000-square-foot subterranean parking garage.

The second building will house a small chapel for intimate spiritual gatherings. It will accommodate up to 100 worshippers. The buildings will all connect by pathways and outdoor celebration spaces to the main sanctuary. The new project was designed by the late Malibu architect David Lawrence Gray. Gray’s associate Mark Meyer took over the project after Gray’s death last December.

The entire expansion is being funded by an anonymous donor with the intent of following the center’s mission to provide a spiritual center for Jewish families and for future generations. MJCS President Jonathan Goldstein called the event a major milestone, saying “it’s a remarkable gift.”

Rabbi Cantor Marcelo Gindlin, who leads the MJCS congregation, commented he was excited to finally break ground on what he called an extended home for “our tabernacle” in Malibu. 

“It’s a portal,” he said. “Here is where our present, our past, and our future come together.”


Gindlin reminded the crowd of MJCS’s humble history when founding members recruited shoppers at what is now Ralphs supermarket back in the 1980s. Members rented space at Webster Elementary School and eventually broke ground years later on the current space.

For more than two decades Gindlin has led holidays and life cycle events. 

“We have shared laughter, tears, pride, comfort and hope,” he said. “It’s time to make our dwelling place permanent.” 

MJCS also hosts many gatherings for other Malibu houses of worship and community events. 

Other Malibu clergy, including Father Matt Murphy of Our Lady of Malibu and the Rev. Joyce Stickney of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, attended the groundbreaking in support of their neighboring house of worship. 

“I’m here to support my brothers and sister of faith,” said Murphy, whose Catholic church just held a fundraiser at MJCS. “It’s appropriate to come back and support them.”

Rev. Stickney noted that there’s a strong collegiality among the interfaith community in Malibu. 

“We collaborate and work together to address the needs of the community and to make it a better community for everybody,” she said.

Many in the community were elated to see the groundbreaking.

“It’s very exciting,” said Lori Gray, a member of more than 30 years. “What a phenomenal experience to be here. I’m really proud of this community and all they do for so many. It’s been a long time coming.”

Malibu City Councilmember Paul Grisanti, who was in attendance said, “The Jewish Center, this synagogue, has been a dream of the community for many years. When they built this (the current structure) they made it open to the community and made it a vital part of the community.”

Other dignitaries in attendance were Malibu Mayor Bruce Silverstein, who briefly spoke at the event, and State Sen. Ben Allen, who through redistricting shares Malibu representation with Henry Stern. Allen and a Stern representative presented the center with certificates of appreciation.

Construction at the site will begin once building permits are secured. In the spirit of community generosity, during construction, MJCS expects to be hosted by another house of worship in Malibu. 

“We’re looking forward to being hosted by another religious institution in the area, a church, where we’ll hold our religious services, high holiday services and religious school,” Goldstein said.

Stickney, who serves as a pastor at St. Aidan’s, is also a member of MJCS. She remarked that the congregation is “embracing, accepting, inclusive,” adding “and how bright the light and the love shines here.”