Packing Them in at the Sheridan | Letters | Chicago Reader

Packing Them in at the Sheridan 

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To the editors:

A few comments on your generally excellent article in Neighborhood News regarding the plight of the Palacio theater building [June 21].

Rabbi Solomon Goldman, for whom the structure was named when it was owned by Anshe Emet, was a major figure in the Jewish Conservative movement beginning in the 1930s. He was a dynamic speaker and brilliant scholar, and under his leadership the synagogue grew to the point where the original synagogue and the adjacent community hall could no longer accommodate all those who wanted to worship there on the High Holidays. It was at this juncture that the Sheridan was purchased by Anshe Emet, and the Rabbi would rotate his charismatic presence through all three venues (as well as a small theater that was then in the 700 block on Sheridan and rented for youth services).

Except for the High Holidays, the building was not ordinarily used for religious purposes, but did house a regular series of concerts, lectures and other cultural events (The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, for instance, was staged there with Lloyd Nolan as Queeg).

After Goldman's death, the synagogue was no longer the magnet it had once been, and hundreds or thousands of Jewish families who had lived in the area and provided stability, particularly in the schools, opted for the suburbs or farther reaches of Chicago. It can reasonably be argued that Goldman's passing contributed to the deterioration of the neighborhood and the situation the Palacio building is now in. Anshe Emet, by the way, did not move elsewhere, as the article stated, but simply scaled back to its original complex at Pine Grove and Grace.

Ed Cohen

W. Chase

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