The Pico Union Project is dedicated to the Jewish principle to “love your neighbor as yourself.” We elevate this teaching into practice in our historic building by bringing diverse cultures together through song, story, art, food and prayer. We are a multi-faith cultural arts center and house of worship that aims to help invigorate the community of Los Angeles and reflect the Jewish value of being a light to all nations.
What We Do
The Pico Union Project is a house of worship open to groups and individuals of all faiths where people can meet and pray in a safe, encouraging and inspiring space. We are currently a regular home for five worship communities, and we have space available for special religious services and events. We provide a supportive environment for interfaith activities and a beautiful space for lifecycle events.
In our 375 seat sanctuary/theater, we host music, theater, poetry, art and dance performances, workshops and festivals. We are available to artists and nonprofit organizations in need of performance and/or meeting space, and to film and TV production crews, but we are more than a venue; we are a home for collaborative community.
Built in 1909 as the original location of Sinai Temple, the Pico Union Project is the oldest synagogue building in Los Angeles. When the Sinai community moved to Beverly Hills, the building became home to a Welsh Presbyterian congregation. By 2012, after lovingly maintaining the building for 88 years, the shrinking congregation approached the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California to return the building to the Jewish community. The Jewish Historical Society turned to Craig ‘N Co., a production company owned by prominent Jewish musician Craig Taubman, who purchased the building as a home for the Pico Union Project.
The Pico Union neighborhood is within the original boundary of El Pueblo de Los Angeles, founded in 1781. Originally a fashionable suburb known as the Westlake District, the area has been home to multiple immigrant communities throughout its history. Pico Union is now home to people hailing mainly from Central America, Mexico, Cuba, and Korea. In 2004, the Pico Union neighborhood became Los Angeles’ nineteenth Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. The Pico Union Project is honored to be a partner in preserving and advancing this notable and important community in our city.
Who We Are
Craig Taubman, Founder & Artistic Director
Craig Taubman has left an indelible imprint on the Jewish American experience through his original compositions, recorded music and live performances. His musical style is inspiring, eclectic and accessible, and his songs bridge traditional Jewish themes and ancient teachings with passages and experiences from contemporary Jewish life. He speaks a language that is both comfortable and acceptable to children and adults. His Jewish recordings are an integral part of the community, weaving song and spirit into the fabric of Jewish life, and his compositions are used extensively in formal and informal Jewish settings across America.
Having traveled for years and met people from communities large and small, urban, suburban and rural, Jewish and not, Craig – a natural “connector” – became passionate about using his talents to bring diverse people together in new ways. He branched out to plan and oversee the production of community building events, some for a variety of Jews, including Friday Night Live and The Big Jewish Tent, and some for an interfaith audience, including Unity in Concert and A Sacred Noise, among others.
Inspired by the history, location and spiritual energy of the Pico Union Project building, Craig is using his gift for creating community connections through music, worship and the arts to build a new kind of community center – where all who enter learn to love themselves a little bit better, and in doing so, they become able to open their hearts to their neighbors, in all their diversity, in friendship, cooperation, and even love.
Craig attributes his great success to good hair products and his dog, children and wife of 25 years who keep him in line.
Dr. Zach Lasker, Executive Director
Zach has worked as a leader in several communal and education settings. Most recently he served as director of Melton Research & Education Projects at The Jewish Theological Seminary where he supervised programs for working professionals and various publications and conferences. Prior to that Zach worked for as camp director at Camp Ramah in California after summers as a counselor and song leader, and has also taught in university, day school, and synagogue settings. Prior to his pursuits as an educator, Zach worked in non-profit marketing at Gary Wexler + Associates.
Zach also facilitates courses and workshops through A New Pose for Practice, a project that draws on yoga as a model practice for general skills in leadership, teaching, and learning. The leaders and educators with whom Zach works explore the importance of self-care and learn to apply a variety of principles from yoga instruction to how they create space, set goals, and lead in other domains.
Zach earned his doctorate in education leadership from UCLA and is a certified yoga instructor. He holds an M.A. in education from the American Jewish University and also studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Zach has published articles on eJewishPhilanthropy and in the LA Jewish Journal and LA Yoga. Most important, Zach cherishes the time he spends with family, cooking, commuting around LA by bike, and running outdoors.