The film begins with these announcements, on titles as well as heard aloud as voiceover. ‘Historically, the percentage of Americans without religious affiliation has been 10%. Since 2012, the number of young Americans in this category has been growing 30%. Historical houses of worship around the world have been closed forever.’
The religion under study here is the Jewish religion, with thought centred on the destruction of their magnificent synagogues. What is feared that, in the words of an interviewee, these buildings will be brought down like a beautiful cut flower fading in a vase.
The film then narrows down on one person, a good thing as to make the documentary more personal. The person is Aaron Wolf (the doc’s writer, director and actor), who has moved from L.A. to New York to study and then returned to L.A. He was a third generation belonging to the Wilshire Temple – a huge and handsome structure, but he feels that the connection is lost when he returned.
As religious institutions are losing young members and even closing their doors at an alarming rate, director Aaron Wolf’s personal journey of rediscovery comes alive in RESTORING TOMORROW, a universal story of hope as a treasured local temple near demise, is lifted up by a community’s determination to achieve the impossible. Wolf’s journey explores how when any community puts their mind to it, the impossible becomes possible. Wilshire Boulevard Temple, a Los Angeles treasure built by the original Hollywood moguls, needs to raise millions to restore its majesty and vibrancy, thus also restoring the future of the Jewish community, the greater Los Angeles community-and on a personal level, Wolf himself.
One of the great men examined in the film is Rabbi Edgar Magnin, a well connected man (a photo is shown with human his wife with the Reagans). Another Rabbi examined in the doc is Rabbi Alfred Wolf, The director’s own father who is described as a visionary and dreamer. He was selected between two German Jews to study in the U.S. (this meant, at that time, the difference between life and death) and he left Germany. He founded an inter-religious group that aimed to make peace and give respect to all different religions. This is the segment of the doc that not only makes most sense and is the most interesting but also more relevant in today’s current affairs.
Though the documentary lacks a climax (though not without many inspirational moments including the rending of the well-known Hal David and Burt Bacharach song ‘What the World needs Now’ ), it makes up for it by an important message. The last portion of the film shows the restoration of the temple in L.A. from its planning to its physical restoration. The message, and one of one of the Jews’s fulfilment is to make more Jews who will themselves make even more Jews, so that they can do good for the Earth.