That upended blue-steel box miraculously balancing on one corner atop the Contemporary Jewish Museum is appropriate for an institution that upends conventional ideas about art and religion. Architect Daniel Libeskind designed this museum to be rational, mystical and powerful: building onto a 1907 brick power station, he added blue-steel elements to form the Hebrew word l'chaim (life). But it's the contemporary-art commissions that truly bring the building to life.
Rotating exhibits offer compelling explorations of Jewish ideals and visionaries such as writer Gertrude Stein, rock promoter Bill Graham, cartoonist Roz Chast and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, along with everything from Anthony Discenza's spiritual road signs warning of 'Wafting Music' ahead, to Elisabeth Higgins O'Connor's giant trickster golem (monsters), built of scavenged rags and packing crates.
Stick around for events such as desert filmmaking with Star Wars set designer Erik Tiemens, Bay Area artists discussing the impact of AIDS activism, and interpretive dance for elders with choreographer Joe Goode. Artistic and theological debates are further fueled by respectable pastrami, served on-site from 11am to 2pm during the week, and to 3pm on weekends, by SF's own Wise Sons deli.