30th JCF | Fire | A summary
Another of the elements – Fire – took over the 125 events of the 30th jubilee edition of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, that was held between June 25th and July 4th, 2021. The festival presented fire’s creative and inspiring nature and its power to bring people together.
Fire is one of the four core elements which emerged in the act of world creation. God created light as the first and, having seen that it was good, He separated it from the darkness. Fire – Light – Flame – Radiance play a significant role in Judaism. And in our everyday lives. As long as we are kindled with the fire of passion and love, we are alive.
We, the Festival people are connected together by the fire of mutual fascination for the world of the Jewish culture and fascination with it. This is the culture as vivid and changeable as the fire which spawned it. When we talk about fire in the context of the Jewish culture, for some this may be a painful connotation – the fire of the Holocaust. Yet, the cold fire of the Holocaust dies down in the ashes. The fire of love never fades and lightens up the life.
All the civilizations which claimed the right to eternity fell down and passed away. The Jewish civilization survived. And it lives on. It is like “ner tamid” – the fire which burns, but it does not burn down; it is an eternal light which reflects good and evil, wisdom and stupidity. Our Festival exists thanks to Light: for more than 30 years it has been absorbing it and, at the same time, it radiates with the living light of the Jewish culture.
I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.
founder and director of the JCF
When planning the jubilee edition of the JCF, we did not know in what conditions it would be carried out. We tried to plan it in such a way that no matter what the binding pandemic regulations were, the Festival could take place not only in an online form, but also in reality.
From the very beginning we knew that, for logistic reasons, we would have to give up some of the events. The most difficult decision was certainly to call off the Shalom on Szeroka street. We are aware that for many of you this concert makes up the quintessence of the Jewish Culture Festival, but to get such a big machine going without being certain that the concert could take place, would not be a responsible thing to do.
We decided that most of the events would be held outside: so that the comfort of staying within the Festival space would be the largest.
The Festival Tent which we set up in Kazimierz for the first time in 2019 thus became the best place for this year’s edition.
The Festival Tent became a heart of our jubilee edition, a center of Kazimierz and of the entire Jewish Krakow. All events held in the Tente were broadcast live on a special streaming platform that we created especially for this purpose. And this is why the festival was held simultaneously in Kazimierz and in your homes all over the world.
The need to go out after months of isolation gave rise to the project called Kumzits – a series of artistic activities in Kazimierz. We wanted to make sure you will be able to experience them thus decided not to close them in galleries or other venues.
Artists from all around the globe, selected by curators of the project in an open recruitment process, created 8 remote projects strongly rooted in the history and in the present of this district. With the help of their local partners and thanks to the Internet and other new forms of communication, this idea was materialized so Kumzits became one of the most visible elements of the jubilee JCF.
Thinking of the 30th JCF, we wanted to make it – as in the preceding years – a meeting place. The place for meeting with the Jewish culture and for meeting each other.
The Festival Tent hosted more than 90% of its events were held: lectures, debates, meetings, workshops, but also concerts, live radio broadcasts and auditions. It was also a venue for a series of discussions about sisterhood, Workshops for Seniors series, Morning Papers, events of the Literary Program and many other.
The leading topic of the 30th JCF was fire. Anda Rottenberg, prof. Ernest Niemczyk, prof. Jacek Leociak and Janusz Makuch discussed various aspects of fire in the culture, history and art, whilst rabbi Boaz Pash told us about light in Judaism.
We decided to give the voice to women to show the Jewish and non-Jewish world from their perspective and to let them talk about fire.
The definite majority of the projects within this year’s edition of the JCF were created by women or women had a leading role in them.
We invited Marta Majchrzak, the founder of herstories.pl, who prepared a series of four panels with a common title – Sisterhood. It was joined by renowned artists and activists (among others): Monika Krajewska, Zuzanna Hertzberg, Joanna Pawlik, Betty Q, Maria Świetlik.
A series of morning meetings, titled Morning Papers, was prepared on our invitation by Aga Kozak. This new format for the JCF contained not only the discussion of interesting press articles, but also an opportunity to talk with interesting guests, such Joanna Grzymała – Moszczyńska, Bartek Kieżun, Przemek Krupski and Yael Sherill.
The symbol for this year’s edition, also showing the direction for future, was the concert of female cantors, held in the Tempel synagogue and closing the 30th JCF. For the first time in a few hundred years’ long history of this temple and for the first time in Poland, the liturgy songs were sung by women – female cantors: Sveta Kundish, Rachel Weston and Aviv Weinberg, who were accompanied by an orchestra created especially for this event from Polish and foreign musicians.
Female cantors’ concert, Sisterhood series, Morning Papers or Kumzits were not the only special projects created and ordered for the jubilee edition of the JCF.
Another one was the Polish-Israeli tribute paid to Nicolaus Copernicus. The yard of the Collegium Maius, lit with photon mapping, became the scene for the music pieces, composed especially for this Polish astronomer by the Israeli duo, Dark Matter and a Polish vocalist, Erith and performed by them right next to the manuscript of Copernicus’ greatest work.
Love And Exile. Borderland – Warsaw – Tel Aviv is a title of concert / soundlecture prepared especially for the festival by Jan Młynarski and his Combo Salonowe. That was a great story about prewar and postwar Polish popular music composed by Jewish musicians or performed by Jewish artists.
Gad Tidhar – Israeli oud player recorded for us a concert at the Negev Desert – Baharim. It was showed in our Festival Tent and all guests were welcomed with the glass of green tea with mint.
Max Czollek – a famous German social activist and artist – created for us a series of events showing the change of the situation o the Jews in the German society in the recent years and illustrating also what their contemporary identity is like.
The Festival volunteers – the Machers – prepared a series of events for the oldest guests of the Festival – Workshops for Seniors.
Music has become JCF’s trade mark. It not only draws attention of many people but also shows diversity and richness of Jewish culture. It was alo a case during our anniversary edition.
Beside above mentioned female cantors’ concert performed by Sveta Kundish, Aviv Weinberg and Rachel Weston and Polish tangos presented by Janek Młynarski with his ensemble or electronic music by Dark Matter and Erith, 30th JCF featured also klezmer music performed by three yound violin players (Oksana Balatsko, Małgorzata Spiechlanin, Zofia Wydra) during Zahor ceremony; original contemporary Yiddish music by Jordan Lee Schnee as well as songs of other minorities sung a capella by the trio Gurgulitza.
To surprise of many, Łona and Webber, leading Polish hip-hop duo performed at the festival. The reason was their recent album, exploring musical heritage of various minorities living in Poland. Festival Tent was also a venue for the concert by Israeli-German punk trio Jealous.
DJ-sets became an integral part of the festival. This year they were performed by: Adam Kvasnica, Kixnare, DJ Falafel, Eta Hox and Daniel Drumz. Classical music has alo its place – a concert series Classics At Noon. Anniversary edition of the festival hosted unusual Duo Marimbazzi and the concert was streamed live (audio) in three pareks in Krakow.
The music events comprised not only of concerts and DJ-sets, but also radio plays (also those broadcast live from the JCF Tent), sound lectures, the screenings of the musical films (e.g Kutiman), screening of the film with live music, a discussion about contemporary Jewish music with Frank London, Neta Elkayam, Jeremiah Lockwood and Raphael Roginski, as well as a talk about cantorial music with longtime producer of the Festival concerts of the cantors – Yossi Notkowitz.
Music – apart from meetings with such authors as David Grossman, Bernardo Kuciński or Piotr Smolar – made up a part of this year’s Literary Program, prepared together with the Krakow Festival Office. It featured a concert by Vysoke Celo ensemble and story tellings with live music by Studnia O.
The jubilee JCF did not lack the culinary tones.
Apart from the traditional Shabbat breakfast with live music in the Festival’s Cheder, we also invited our guests for a special dinner in the woods near Krakow, in the “Ogień” (“Fire”) restaurant. The meeting was hosted by Robert Makłowicz, whilst the menu was prepared by Aleksander Baron.
Almost all events of the 30th JCF were broadcast live in internet on a special streaming platform.
They are now still available on the streaming platform, as well as on the Vimeo (player below).
That was our fiery jubilee 30th Jewish Culture Festival. Thank you for being with us.
30th JCF in figures
125 events of the 30th JCF / detailed list below
56 events within the Kumzits
15 lectures, meetings, sound lectures
6 events of the Literary Program
5 meetings within the Morning Papers
5 events of the Workshops For Seniors
4 discussions in the Sisterhood series
5 events in the New Jewish Voices
12 other events
141 artists, lecturers and instructors
55 volunteers from 15 countries:
Poland, Germany, Italy, Israel, Hungary, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Pakistan,
India, Belarus, Kongo, Peru, Spain, France and Portugal
5 518 participants within the audience
17 349 members within the internet audience
28 705 users of the website
134 123 views of the website
22 967 number of followers on Facebook (+1 264)
13 200 number of subscribers on YouTube (+1 030)
3 180 number of followers on Instagram (+705)
520 000+ total reach of the posts about 30th JCF in our social media
297 information in Polish media
265 177 reach in social media
422 037 reach outside of social media
161 180 PLN – value of AVE
208 User Generated Content (UGC)
The above data concern the period between June 1st and July 13th, 2021. Sources: Facebook, YouTube and Instagram and Brand24.
Program i opisy wydarzeń | Nagrania wydarzeń | Zdjęcia wydarzeń
Kalendarium (pdf) | Raport (pdf)
Organizers of the festival
The President of the Society and the Festival Director
Maria Bobrowska, Klaudia Czaja, Monika Dyrlaga, Elżbieta Woch-Stopa
Co-ordination of the volunteer service
Łukasz Drużkowski, Michał Dziewit, Maria Kistowska, Paulina Kowalska,
Monika Krawczyk, Grzegorz Mikunda, Aleksandra Trakul, Małgorzata Wolska
Broadcasts service and online materials editing
Eventstream Wojciech Sadowski, Grzegorz Staszek, Artur Staszek
Visual identification of the 30th JCF and the streaming platform was prepared by the
Studio Otwarte /see InstaStories
The office of the festival and society
Edyta Gawlak, Robert Gądek, Paweł Kowalewski, Julia Lorenc, Katarzyna Wydra
Technical service for the festival
Agencja Artystyczna Duo Marek Suszkiewicz
FS Audio Maciej Fryc
Edyta Dufaj, Wojciech Krysiak, Karolina Moskała, Michał Ramus
Festival Tent design