29th Jewish Culture Festival

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  • Friday, June 21, 2019 - Sunday, June 30, 2019

Earliest Presence

As the Israelites travelled through the desert to their Promised Land, they spent forty years dwelling in tents. This year, the Jewish Culture Festival builds a Meeting Tent in the Kazimierz district to recall the seven centuries of Jewish presence in this corner of Poland.

Since the dawn of time, tents – “mobile homes made of camel skin” – have been inextricably linked with human existence. Erecting a tent marks a symbolic beginning of our presence in a given space. The leading motif of the 29th Jewish Culture Festival (21-30 June) is the earth: Eretz Israel or the Promised Land. “This year, we are putting up a tent on the soil of Kazimierz which has been home to the Ashkenazi civilisation for centuries. History teaches and forces us to live responsibly. During this year’s event, we will search for ways of preserving our identity, inextricably linked with land, while remembering that nothing is given forever,” says the founder and director of the festival Janusz Makuch.

Meeting Tent

The heart of the festival will be the tent raised on the square at the intersection of Wąska and Józefa streets, serving as a venue for concerts, meetings, lectures and workshops. The nearby Cheder café is also open for meetings, discussions and simply spending free time.

One of the most notable festival events is the literary stream, prepared jointly with the Krakow Festival Office. We will meet authors including Zośka Papużanka, Wit Szostak and Monika Sznajderman.

During her cycle of lectures, Tova Dickstein discusses the symbolism of dishes described in the Bible, Rabbi Boaz Pash examines the legendary Wandering Jew, Yossi Klein Halevi describes how Poland changed his life, and Prof. Deborah Lipstadt considers the essence of antisemitism.

As part of the series of presentations Makom/The Earth, the concept is interpreted by five artists from Poland and Israel, with events led by Itay Mautner – one of the most acclaimed representatives of contemporary Israeli culture. Meydad Eliyahu, artistic director of last year’s project Sambation, is joined by the artist Anat Bosak in preparing a series of artistic activities, installations and happenings.

As usual, there will be Klezmer music and Yiddish singing workshops, workshops for seniors and walks around Kazimierz and the former ghetto.

Musical archipelago

The trademark of the Jewish Culture Festival has always been music in all its forms, providing a perfect depiction of the wealth and diversity of contemporary Jewish culture and delighting all tastes.

We kick off at the festival tent with Abrão – a Brazilian musician born to a Jewish family, presenting fascinating Latino material from his first solo album (21 June). On the same evening, a crew of Israeli DJs – Adi Boutrous, Yoav Saar, David Rachmani and Shiwa Biwa – commandeer the Barge to take us to a whole different musical archipelago… Mała Orkiestra Dancingowa under the baton of Noam Zylberberg reconstructs sounds concealed under the crackle of old vinyl (22 June). Sunday 23 June is filled with classical music presented by the Airis Quartet and the cantors’ at the Tempel Synagogue.

On 24 June at Hever, Emmanuel Witzthum presents a special, nostalgic musical project Songs of Love and Loss with a Polish-German string octet intertwining electronic samples and live visualisations. The following day, the Tempel Synagogue resounds with the “last Klezmer of Moldova” and accordion virtuoso Emil Kroitor accompanied by musicians from The Trance-Moldavian Express. On 26 June, the venue welcomes the diva of Jewish music from Morocco Raymonde. On 27 June, we will hear original music combining North-African and Middle-Eastern traditions of Jewish liturgical poetry with synagogue music performed by The Piyut Ensemble. On Friday 28 June, Michael Winograd & The Honorable Mentshn present traditional Klezmer music with their programme Kosher Style. The cycle of concerts at the Tempel Synagogue culminates with an evening paying tribute to Leopold Kozłowski who passed away recently. This will be the first time the Jewish Culture Festival takes place without the last Klezmer of Galicia.

On 26 June, Alchemia welcomes Uzi Navon who’ s music recalls the Polish-Jewish big beat band Śliwki whose popularity came to a rapid end with the enforced emigrations of 1968.

A special event of the 29th festival will be the world premiere of the project The Name’s Bajgelman, with Ola Bilińska paying homage to the Bajgelman family of musicians who lived in Łódź during the interwar period (27 June, Galicia Jewish Museum).

The finale concert (30 June) at the festival tent welcomes Cracovian DJs MLDVA & Çınar Timur, whose setlist is inspired by masters of popular Turkish music including Barış Manço, Özdemir Erdoğan and Selda Bağcan.

The festival programme culminates with Shalom on Szeroka Street (29 June). Myriad stars of Jewish music from all over the globe will perform with Mała Orkiestra Dancingowa and Sinfonietta Cracovia, among the others.

***

“We are opening our Tent to all who are the fruit of the Earth and who are a part of our joint Polish-Jewish universe,” promises Janusz Makuch. B’ruhim Haba’im – Blessed are those who come!

(Justyna Skalska, "Karnet" magazine)

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