These days, a 10-foot-high portrait of Magnin hangs outside the temple's Factor Chapel, named for the cosmetics pioneer Max Factor and his wife, Jenny, and Leder sits behind the old rabbi's desk. Leder's collection of about 100 tzedakah, or philanthropy boxes, once used for donations for different charities, takes up several shelves in one of the carved oak bookcases.
Leder walks into the stunning 1,800-seat temple sanctuary, whose beauty made him fall in love with the synagogue when he arrived for a job interview 21 years ago.
The murals on the walls that tell the history of the Jews were donated by the Warner brothers and painted by Hugo Ballin, head of their studio's art department.
The stained glass windows, each made of 6,000 pieces of glass, include studio head Louis B. Mayer among its donors. Part of the 135-foot dome was a gift from producer Irving Thalberg.
But it is someone in love who best understands his lover's faults. The murals are pulling off the wall and need cleaning, Leder says. He pointed to the brown molding nearby. "It's supposed to be gold. That's 80 years of dirt."
Stones around the stained glass windows are cracked, and the windows themselves are bowed. Water has leaked onto the dome. So much efflorescence, a flaky substance that has formed from leaching salts, falls down that if the floor weren't vacuumed daily, the sanctuary would look as if it had snowed.
There is no air conditioning, so on days when Wilshire Boulevard Temple is filled, Leder says, it is more like a schvitz, a steam bath, than a synagogue.
The sanctuary is tentatively scheduled to close after the High Holy Days in 2010 and reopen 18 months to two years later.
The temple could have just refurbished the sanctuary, but that wouldn't have worked, Leder said. "It would be like a guitar without strings. Redoing the sanctuary will be no more than redoing a dead place, and that's not what this congregation is or what the Jewish people are."