Yesterday, I met two girlfriends--Barat and Anita--at Spertus for what they are now calling their "Self-Guided" tour. Which amounts to wandering around a few empty floors of the architectural landmark, peeking into empty classrooms with fantastic views of Grant Park and the Lake--and enjoying a modest few pieces of art on the walls--some permanent; some temporary. And wondering all the while, what the hell happened?
Remember when Spertus had it's fantastic and enormous collection of Jewish artificacts--such as ancient foreskin holders (from ritualistic circumcisions), menorahs, mezuzahs
, and all the rest of it? Silvery, well-lit, a testament to the history of the Jewish people. Not to mention a huge part of an upper floor devoted to traveling art exhibitions that had heft, gravitas, perhaps even a bit of controversy--rivaling any big exhibition you'd see at say, the Museum of Contemporary Art
. There was even a good-sized children's museum that was engaging, interactive and darn cool. Today, you can rent the cleared out space to throw a party.
Anita was trying to explain to us why Spertus doesn't have the money it did to maintain a museum and hire staff--since it's move into it's beautiful new building that was next door to the old one on South Michigan Avenue
. Politics, factionalism in the Jewish community, that sort of thing. I told Anita and Barat I thought too many generous Jews invested with Bernie Madoff
and weren't in a position to donate as much to good causes anymore. Anita said no, that wasn't it. And she was emphatic.
So we finished our wandering, enjoying what we could, but yearning so strongly for the past at Spertus, when you could really see something unique.
We ate dinner at Brasserie by LM
a block or so away and lamented a bit more. Then Anita left us to hear Scheherazade
at Millennium Park. But Barat and I went back to Spertus to see the movie, "Nuremberg: It's Lesson for Today."
The US-made documentary has been restored. And I can say that in this film are without a doubt the most horrifying and compelling footage of World War II itself--from the Nazi side--and absolutely the most horrendous footage of the concentration camps anyone has ever seen. And I've been to Dachau
! And that is a tea party compared to what this movie contains.
All in all, the film topped off a sad day at Spertus. With thoughts of what has been, what was and what could have been. And why it isn't anymore.
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