Opened in January 1997, the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery's premiere exhibition presented the story of the renewal of Jewish community centers throughout America. The recently reopened D.C. Jewish Community Center is a local example itself: Originally built as a Jewish center in the 1920s, it was sold to the D.C. government in 1969 as its tenants fled the post-riot downtown for the then-calmer pastures of Rockville. The building was bought and renovated in 1996 with contributions from the District's Jewish community and now serves its original purpose complete with theater, gym, cafe and art gallery. The gallery, directly on your left as you come through the main entrance on the building's north side, is home to three or four shows a year. During its first year, the gallery featured the acclaimed "Urban Diaspora: Reclaiming Space," which chronicled through photographs the urban renewal efforts of Jewish communities across the country; "Continuum: Memory in Motion," a juried show of predominantly local and Jewish painters; and "Banned, Censored & Suppressed," an exhibition of posters and photographs about the Hollywood blacklisting of the McCarthy era. Ask at the front desk about availability and prices for artwork usually in the $500 to $5,000 range. What makes this gallery more like a museum, says gallery director Alison Clarick Gottsegen, are the programs that complement the exhibits. Aside from drawing, photography and painting courses offered to members and nonmembers, each exhibit is coupled with specific programs and activities meant to enrich the understanding and appreciation of the gallery's contents. "Urban Diaspora," for example, featured walking tours of historic Jewish Washington, a stained-glass workshop, an oral history workshop and a symposium on the preservation of Jewish sacred spaces. And the exploration of blacklisted Hollywood writers wouldn't have been complete without movie screenings in the adjoining theater. With the many cultural fruits this reclaimed space has to offer, everyone can be thankful the JCC is back on the block. John Poole
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