Theodore Fischer, Sidewalk
B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum is a good reason to come in
out of the rain (or sun) of Scott Circle. The building itself
endured a moment in the media sun back in 1977 when a group of Hanafi
Muslim terrorists invaded it and occupied the building for three days
before a peaceful settlement was negotiated. At the same time, another
contingent of Hanafis invaded the District Building, shooting then-City
Council member Marion Barry in the chest.
building serves as a center of local Jewish life and museum of Jewish
culture. One section houses temporary exhibitions – currently
"Compassion Around the World: The Art of Edna Hibel" from the
Hibel Museum of Art in Palm Beach, Fla. The permanent exhibit, "The
Life Cycle," displays artwork, religious articles and
household items in sections common to any culture – Birth (including
nifty circumcision kits), Marriage (contracts and hairpieces) and Death
– and in Jewish ones including Bar Mitzvah, Synagogue and every one of
the Jewish holidays.
Except for some bogus scrip produced by the Germans to impress
concentration camp monitors and a "Schutz-Pass" issued by
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg permitting a Jewish family to escape
Germany, there's not a trace of the Holocaust. The highlight of the museum
is a 1790 letter from George Washington to the sexton of a Newport, R.I.,
synagogue declaring the United States "a government which, happily,
gives to bigotry no sanction; to persecution no assistance." The
letter is displayed under a brownstone replica of the synagogue.
the lobby from the museum is the cozy Jewish American Sports Hall
of Fame. Mementos from the top "Stars of David"
– baseball slugger Hank Greenberg, pitcher Sandy Koufax, first
female boxing judge Eva Shah and Boston Celtics coach (and George
Washington University player) Red Auerbach – are displayed in
individual lockers. Second-string players memorialized by mere
plaques include the incomparable Howard Cosell, sportswriter Shirley
Povich, Wizards and Caps owner Abe Pollin and – yes, sports fans
– defrocked broadcaster Marv Albert. On your way out, stop at the
museum store for dazzling candles and candleholders, Jewish-themed
toys and games and a copy of the huge current international
bestseller, Kosher Sex.
Cross Rhode Island Avenue to the Governor's House Hotel, named
after Gov. Gifford Pinchot of Pennsylvania, the first chief of the
Forest Service, whose home once occupied the site. Now the hotel is
home of the 17th Street Bar and Grill, the former Herb's
recycled into a clubby and attractive spot for good deals on tasty
sandwiches and pizzas and nightly specials ranging from jambalaya to
ribs to catfish to half-price burgers. There's a "free-flowing
champagne" sit-down brunch ($13.95) on Sunday, cocktail hours
with live music and $4 martinis nightly and plenty of space on the
outdoor patio whenever weather permits.
Other Scott Circle hotels offer more upscale dining. Spending a lot
of loot at Chardonnay in the DoubleTree Hotel Park Terrace
won't guarantee a fabulous meal. You can do better just south of the
circle by taking tea at the Jefferson Hotel Bar or a meal at
the New American-style Jefferson Restaurant. Remember the Jefferson
Hotel? That's the place where President Clinton's
former spinmeister, Dick Morris, was photographed with a hooker –
right under "Old Fuss and Feathers'" (Gen. Winfield
Scott's) very nose.
• B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, 1640 Rhode
Island Ave. N.W., (202) 857-6583
• 17th Street Bar and Grill, Governor's House Hotel,
1615 Rhode Island Ave. N.W., (202) 331-0227
• Chardonnay, DoubleTree Hotel Park Terrace, 1515
Rhode Island Ave. N.W., (202) 232-7000
• Jefferson Hotel Restaurant/Bar, 1200 16th St.
N.W., (202) 833-6206
See also: Scott Circle's startling