It's about a half-hour before sundown on Friday night, the Jewish sabbath, and despite the here on the corner of Chandler Blvd. and Ethel Ave., all is peaceful.
Just two days beyond that the construction of this synagogue can continue, there is no evidence of the divisiveness that has caused all of L.A. to pay attention to this Sherman Oaks neighborhood.
against the expansion of the temple have always explained that they have no problem with a reasonable expansion of the temple, but that this structure is simply too large, especially considering that Chabad has only five parking places.
Chabad maintains parking is unnecessary as their congregants walk to temple on the sabbath, forbidden to drive by Orthodox law.
The neighbors say they get around this law by driving in before sundown, parking, and leaving the cars overnight.
So Patch spent a few hours in the neighborhood tonight to see where the truth actually lies.
For the two hours prior to sundown, only one car of Chabad congregants parked in the immediate vicinity of the temple.
All the other congregants walked from their homes in the neighborhood, or beyond the neighborhood, but did not park along Chandler Blvd. or Ethel Ave. as their detractors insisted.
One member of the opposition, noticing this reporter with his camera in the neighborhood while driving by, said, "They're not gonna park here tonight. They know you're watching."
Indeed, congregants cognizant of our stake-out might have intentionally parked a few blocks away so as not to be seen. But we have no proof of that. On this night, at least, all was serene at Chabad.
Almost all the congregants, while passing, as other neighbors have noted, were smiling and friendly.
Rabbi Nachman Abend, the son of the senior Rabbi Aharon Abend, came out to greet me.
"Taking photos on Shabbos?" he asked with a big smile.
Although he knew why Patch was surveying the actions of his congregation, he had no anger. He pointed out the few cars parked on Chandler Blvd. in front of the temple, and said, "And the others, they live here in the neighborhood and they walk from their homes. We are a neighborhood shul."
Asked if he would consent to be photographed for this story, he smiled warmly and said, "No, not on Shabbos. But come after Shabbos, and I will pose in my fur hat for you."
Chabad families of all ages arrived, old men and women, young parents with children, and all pored into the small temporary trailers that are serving as their synagogue as the sun set in the west, behind the big edifice of the unfinished synagogue.
All around the temple, along Chandler Blvd. and Ethel Avenue, were many open parking places.
This pacific Chandler Blvd. neighborhood, lined with towering pines above beautiful, old homes and the tree-lined bike path and bus line just behind the boulevard, was stirred on this evening only by a slight breeze. Whether tonight was an organized exception remains to be seen, but on this night, the 29th of June, sundown at Chabad was peaceful.