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31st Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków | a summary

The Festival is our personal story about history and about faith, about today and about hopes for future which we link with the observance of the values inscribed in the religious and secular culture of the Jews. Written with the four elements of creation, this story shows its life-giving sources which breed the passion for further stories. The Festival liberates itself from the authority of the historical dogmas, cultural stereotypes and faded pictures distorting the Polish-Jewish history – it is a road sign and not a road. The road must be found be everyone by themselves. 

The elements, in equal measure, favor humans, and make up a deadly threat for them. (…) In the third Festival edition, devoted to the four elements in the Jewish tradition, we are going to talk about water: to begin with the act of creation, and to end with the irrigation of deserts and water desalination in Israel.

And we will discuss, if there is still any spring which has not been plugged up, where both the Poles and the Jews can meet to give each other some hope that healing is still possible?

Water is a cosmic power. Water purifies. Water is the source of life.

Janusz Makuch, founder and director of the JCF

The program of the 31st edition of the Jewish Culture Fetsival – the largest in the world festival that presents the contemporary Jewish culture, included lectures, workshops, meetings, guided tours, artistic projects, film screanings and concerts, the latter ones especially valued by its audience, as well as other music events, which for many years have become the Festival brand of quality. This edition of the festival featured 108 events in the main program and 75 accompanying events. 

65 events, out of 108 in total were made especially for the festival, many had Polish or even world premieres and 28 were streamed live on our website.

The definite majority of the Festival events were held in the Festival Tent, which, already since 2019, has been the beating heart of the Festival, whilst its concerting stage has remained the Tempel Synagogue.

This year, the Festival featured five concerts in the Tempel synagogue. The first of them was a chamber concert within the Classics at Noon series, performed by the great Volare quartet – created especially for the festival by the Ukrainian students of the Krakow Academy of Music. Another concert in Tempel made a part of Frank London’s project, Ghetto Songs, created for Beit Venezia. A Home for Jewish Culture – a Jewish culture center in Venice, one of the main partners of this year’s Festival.

Another project which premiered at our stage was Jeremiah Lockwood’s Golden Ages – Hassidic Revival of Cantorial Music in Brooklyn which is also accompanied by a vinyl record, issued by our Society.

The icon of Israeli contemporary music – Liraz – made her performance at the closure of the JCF. It was an exceptional concert, because it was for the first time that the Israeli musicians were accompanied by three artists from Iran who secretly came to Krakow and performed with their faces veiled to avoid troubles back home.

The greatest popularity was enjoyed  by the Friday concert, Bajgelman. Get to Tango featured by Bester Quartet, Grażyna Auguścik, Dorota Miśkiewicz and Jorgos Skolias.

Grażyna Auguścik
Liraz
Liraz
Bajgelman. Get to Tango
Cantors' Concert
Cantors' Concert
Frank London Ghetto Songs
Tempel synagogue
Classics at Noon: Volare String Quartet
Karim Sulayman

Concerts were also held in the Festival Tent. Especially for us, Frank London prepared concert of Hassidic Niggunim from Galicia and Jeremiah Lockwood with cantor Yoel Kohn presented Khazones Soul Party – the second concert within the Classics at Noon series, this time presenting the chazzanut music.

After a two-year’s break we returned to the tradition of the night jam sessions in Alchemia, in which we could listen to almost all Festival musicians performing in spontaneous and sometimes very original configurations.

The music program was completed with DJ sets and radio programs for Radio Krakow and OFF Radio Kraków, broadcast live from the Festival Tent.

The last event of the 31st JCF was the concert of an Israeli band, Malox with a Polish vocalist,  Maniucha Bikont, which was the fourth concert within a series of concerts which Malox recorded in its Festival residence at the Alchemia club, when Polish and Israeli musicians made their first record together.

The leading theme of the 31st JCF – water – was most visible in a series of lectures, delivered by Ifor Duncan, Rabbi Boaz Pash (who deivered two lectures: 1/2), Konstanty Gebert and Janusz Makuch. The second series of lectures, devoted to antisemitism and antizionism, was inspired by a question purification in the Polish-Jewish relationships is possible. The attempt to answer this question was made during a debate between: professor Stanisław Krajewski, professor Jan Hartman and professor Yossi Klein Halevi, and lectures with professor Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, Konstanty Gebert and professor Jacek Leociak. Unfortunately, due to health problems, professor Gotz Aly had to cancel his participation in the Festival.

Both water and antisemitism were present in the meetings within the Literary Program  of Festival, co-organized together with the Krakow Festival Office, in which the leading voices were Anna Bikont and Małgorzata Lebda. The third meeting within this cycle, which featured Łukasz Barys, Olga Drenda, Igor Jarek and Elżbieta Łapczyńska concerned new urban legends and presented some reference to a series of artistic projects of Maiseh, prepared especially for this year’s edition of the JCF.

Maiseh – which means a story in Yiddish – made up the second, after the last year’s Kumzits project, series of site specific artistic interventions within the space of Kazimierz, which we prepared together with the Berlin Curatorial Collective for Public Art and HaMiffal Jerusalem art center. Polish, Isreali and German artists (Wojtek Blecharz, Hadassa Goldvicht, Cecylia Malik, Stefanie Oberhoff, Christoph Rothmeier, Kobi Vogman and Yuval Yairi) presented their interpretations of Krakowian and Ukrainian legends.

However, this was not the only Ukrainian motif within our program. Knowing that a large share of Krakow residents is made up by Ukrainian war refugees, we wanted to offer something for them within the JCF program.

The whole Festival program booklet was translated into Ukrainian, and also many of the events had Ukrainian motifs – apart from the above concert of the Volare quartet and references to Ukranian legends in the Maiseh project, we have prepared a tour of Kazimierz in Ukrainian, workshops of Jewish Ukrainian songs and painting workshop with the mezen technique which is very popular in Ukraine.

It was a great honor for us to host in the Festival Tent, a true legend of the Polish film and television  – Stanisław Janicki, a longtime host of the program „W starym kinie” (“In an Old Cinema”). Especially for us he prepared a lecture,  Not just about old (Jewish) cinema and two film screenings.

Like each year, the JCF also featured the events within the Workshops for Seniors – a cycle of events prepared by our volunteers for Krakowian seniors. Also the Festival program included the tours with Anna Kiesell and Paulina Żelazko, as well as with Rabbi Boaz Pash, or Janusz Makuch, who also recorded special radio program for Radio Krakow that was broadcast on the first evening of the festival.

We also invited festival audience to Shabbat Brunch with live DJ-set and to Zahor – ceremony commemorating Krakow Jews, accompanied by mini-recital by Jarosław Bester.

Workshops for Seniors: painting in mezen technique
Shabbat Brunch
Zahor - commemorating Jews of Krakow
The Machers - festival volunteers
Workshops for Seniors: workshop of zero waste cooking
Stanisław Janicki
Maiseh: happening Pigeon Girl - Stefania Oberhoff

While preparing this edition of festival we started to co-operate with two new foreign institutions: first of them was the already mentioned here, Beit Venezia. A Home of Jewish Culture, which accompanied us in the preparation of an exhibition, Living Under Water. We also prepared a talk with the artists taking part in the exhibition, which made up a part of a larger project involving Jewish artists from worldwide searching for the Jewish answer to the climactic crisis. The fruit of this collaboration was also the creation of two publications – in Polish and in English: Living Under Water / Życie pod wodą with essays, written especially for the book by  Marc Epstein, Shaul Bassi, Jonathan Sacks, Małgorzata Lebda and Nigel Savage featuring also the works of Andi Arnovits, Ken Goldman, Meydad Eliyahu, Leora Wise and others. The result of the second collaboration – with the Coalition for Pluralistic Public Discourse from Germany – was a series of discussions, workshops and presentations under a joint title, Future of Memory.

31th JCF in figures

108 events 31st JCF, including:
22 musical events
(concerts, DJparties, radio programs, jam session, sound installations)
46 events within Maiseh project
13 lectures, meetings, discussions
8 guided tours and workshops
3 events within Literary Program
3 events within Workshops for Seniors
5 evetns within Future of Memory
1 exhibition
7 other events
(details of events available at the end of this page)

101 artists, lecturers, instructors
from 9 countries: Poland, Israel, Ukraine, USA, Germany,
Iran, Latvia, United Kingdom, Italy

65 volunteers
from 20 countries: Poland,
Israel, Netherlands, Azerbaijan, Finland, France,
Spain, China, USA, Italy, Germany,
Mexico, Belarus, Portugal, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Jordan, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, including
5 senior volunteers

15 951 participants within the audience
28 264 participants within online audience

53 127 users of the website
225 878 views of the website

23 581 number of followers on Facebook (+614)
14 029 subscriptions on YouTube (+ 829)
3 743 followers on Instagram (+563)

445 988 total reach of the posts about 31st JCF
in festival’s social media (posts FB + IG, reelsy and live)

41 713 activities with posts on FB and IG
10 520 views of festival’s profile on FB
216 information in Polish media
157 924
reach in social media
232 118  reach outside of social media

130 162 PLN value of AVE
140 User Generated Content (UGC)

The above data concern the period between May 1st and July 7th, 2022. Sources: statistics from Facebook, YouTube and Instagram and Brand24.

Detailed list of sponsors, donors and partners could be found under this link

Organizers of the Festival

The President of the Society and the Festival Director
Janusz Makuch

Accounting
Maria Bobrowska, Klaudia Czaja, Monika Dyrlaga, Elżbieta Woch-Stopa

Co-ordination of volunteer service
Michał Dziewit, Maria Kistowska, Karolina Kokoszka,
Monika Krawczyk, Daniel Rucki, Aleksandra Trakul, Małgorzata Wolska

Broadcasts service and online materials editing
Eventstream: Wojciech Sadowski, Grzegorz Staszek, Artur Staszek

Visual identification
Studio Otwarte

The office of the festival and society
Edyta Gawlak, Robert Gądek, Paweł Kowalewski, Julia Lorenc, Katarzyna Wydra

Social media
Michalina Pieczonka

Technical services
Agencja Artystyczna Duo Marek Suszkiewicz
FS Audio Maciej Fryc

Photo service
Edyta Dufaj, Wojciech Krysiak, Karolina Moskała, Michał Ramus

Festival Tent design
Marta Staszków

EVENTS OF THE MAIN PROGRAM OF THE 31st JEWISH CULTURE FESTIVAL

LECTURES, MEETING, DISCUSSIONS

  • Under and Over Venice’s Waters: An Artistic Perspective – meeting with artists: Andi Arnovitz, Meydad Eliyahu, moderation: Shaul Bassi. Cooperation: Beit Venezia. A Home for Jewish Culture, Jewish Religious Community in Krakow
  • Drought in the Rivers of Forgetting: The Wisła, Soła, Przemsza Rivers and the Legacies of GenocideIfor Duncan. Cooperation: Beit Venezia. A Home for Jewish Culture
  • Searching of the source or is the Polish-Jewish dialogue / purification still possible? – prof. Yossi Klein Halevi (lecture online) – especially for 31st JCF
  • What Happenned When G-d Separetd Lower Waters From Upper Waters?Rabbi Boaz Pash – especially for 31st JCF
  • Europe and World Against the Jews – discussion: Yossi Klein Halevi (via Zoom), prof. Stanisław Krajewski, prof. Jan Hartman, moderation: Dominika Kozłowska, PhD – especially for 31st JCF
  • Not Only About Old (Jewish) Movies Stanisław Janicki – especially for 31st JCF
  • How Shall we reconnect lower waters with upper waters?Rabbi Boaz Pash – especially for 31st JCF
  • Perpetrators of Genocide as Moral People Konstanty Gebert, moderation: Joanna Tokarska–Bakir – especially for 31st JCF
  • Zog nisht keynmol: Tales of Resistance.Arnold Zable. Lecture under patronage of Kronhill Pletka Foundation – especially for 31st JCF
  • Elements of the Middle East: Water. – Konstanty Gebert – especially for 31st JCF
  • Jewish citizens of pre-war Krakow. Vol. 5: Places and People. – Ewa Mańkowska, moderation: Janusz Makuch
  • Records of the Holocaust experience and the “perspective of tomorrow”  Jacek Leociak – especially for 31st JCF
  • Gihon – A Source of Life.Janusz Makuch – especially for 31st JCF.

LITERARY PROGRAM

Co-organzier: Krakow Festival Office – operator of the program Kraków – UNESCO City of Literature.

  • New Urban LegendsIgor Jarek, Elżbieta Łapczyńska, Łukasz Barys, Olga Drenda. Cooperation: Jewish Religious Community in Krakow – especially for 31st JCF
  • The Price of Silence Anna Bikont, Konstanty Gebert, moderation Marcin Wicha – especially for 31st JCF
  • The Force of the River. Reading of Water: VistulaMałgorzata Lebda, Rafał Siderski – especially for 31st JCF.

FUTURE OF MEMORY

Cooperation: Coalition for Pluralistic Public Discourse, Leo Baeck Foundation, Goethe Institut Krakowespecially for 31st JCF 

  • Future of Memory. IntroJohanna Korneli, Max Czollek, Jo Frank
  • Future of Memory. Dialogue – Open discussion with CPPD members
  • Future of Memory. Recall – presentations of outcomes of Dialogue session with CPPD members
  • Future of Memory. PanelHannan Salamat, Benjamin Fischer, Stephanie Kuhnen, moderation: Jo Frank
  • Future of Memory. Performance – CDDP members, moderation: Max Czollek

MUSICAL EVENTS

  • CLASSICS AT NOON: Volare String Quartet: Artem Kozyra (I violin), Anastasiya Sokruta (II violin), Seweryn Kosiorowski (viola), Andriy Vorontsov (cello). Cooperation: Żydowska Gmina Wyznaniowa w Krakowie – especially for 31st JCF
  • Frank London Ghetto Songs: Frank London (trumpet), cantor Svetlana Kundish (vocal), Karim Sulayman (vocal), Brandon Ross (guitar), Ilya Shneyveys (accordion, organs, piano), Zeno de Rossi (drums), Martin Lilich (double bass), Francesca Ter–Berg (cello). Project commissioned by Beit Venezia. A Home for Jewish Culture. The concert at JCF is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • CANTORS’ CONCERT: Golden Ages – Hasidic Revival of Cantorial Music in BrooklynJeremiah Lockwood (piano, organs), cantor Yaakov Lemmer (vocal), cantor Shimi Miller (vocal), cantor Yoel Kohn (vocal), Airis String Quartet: Aleksandra Czajor–Kowalska (I violin), Grażyna Zubik (II violin), Malwina Tkaczyk (viola), Mateusz Mańka (cello). The concert at JCF is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Koncert pod patronatem Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture 
  • MALOX & friends: The great, the better and the best – take # 1: Maniucha Bikont: Eyal Talmudi (saxophone), Assaf Talmudi (keyboards), Roy Chen (drums), Maniucha Bikont (vocal, tube), Jakub Lewicki (tube), Kacper Grzanka (trumpet), Maciej Prokopowicz (trombone) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Get to Tango: Bester Quartet: Jarosław Bester (accordion), Dawid Lubowicz (violin), Ryszard Pałka (drums), Maciej Adamczak (double bass), Michał Bylica (trumpet), Jakub Gucik (cello) and Grażyna Auguścik (vocal), Dorota Miśkiewicz (vocal), Jorgos Skolias (vocal). Concert under patronage of Berelson and Baigelman families. – especially for 31st JCF
  • OFF / FKŻ Studio 1 – live radio show: Paulina Bisztyga. | OFF / FKŻ Studio 2 – live radio show: Eta Hox, Martyna Masztalerz.OFF / FKŻ Studio 3 – Dj-set: Orion Orient. Cooperation: OFF Radio Kraków – especially for 31st JCF
  • Living Under WaterTomasz Jurecki – DJ set at the opening of the exhibition  – especially for 31st JCF
  • Shabbat Brunch DJ set: Wake Up – especially for 31st JCF

  • MALOX & friends: The great, the better and the best – take # 2: Frank London: Eyal Talmudi (saxophone), Assaf Talmudi (keyboards), Roy Chen (drums), Frank London (trumpet), Maniucha Bikont (vocal, tube), Jakub Lewicki (tube), Kacper Grzanka (trumpet), Maciej Prokopowicz (trombone) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Nigunim from Galicia IFF Trio: Frank London (trumpet), Ilya Schneyveys (accordion, keyboards), Francesca Ter–Berg (cello) – especially for 31st JCF
  • MALOX & friends: The great, the better and the besttake # 3 Jeremiah Lockwood: Eyal Talmudi (saxophone), Assaf Talmudi (keyboards), Roy Chen (drums), Jeremiah Lockwood (guitar), Maniucha Bikont (vocal, tube), Kacper Grzanka (trumpet), Maciej Prokopowicz (trombone) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Night session @ Alchemia: MALOX & Guests – three improvised ja sessions – especially for 31st JCF
  • CLASSICS AT NOON: Khazones Soul Party: Yoel Kohn (vocal), Jeremiah Lockwood (guitar, keyboards) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Commemoration of Krakow Jews – mini recital: Jarosław Bester (accordion) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Roya – Liraz & Ensemble: Liraz Charhi (vocal), Daniel Ever Hadani (keyboards), Lia Sherman (violin), Roy Chen (drums), Uri Brauner Kinrot (bas), Gilad Levin (guitar), Shirin Bibian (daf), Roza Ghassemi (tar), Elnaz Bayati (violin), Yaron Sarel (sound engineer). Concert dedicated to the memory of late Jan Kulczyk, organized in cooperation with Kulczyk Foundation.
  • Night session @ Alchemia: Frank London & Guests: Brandon Ross (guitar); IFF Klezmer Trio – especially for 31st JCF
  • An Endless DanceWojtek Blecharz – sound installation – especially for 31st JCF

WORKSHOPS, GUIDED TOURS

  • Workshop: Water in Judaism: Symbols and RitualsMarta Eichelberger–Jankowska – especially for 31st JCF
  • Guided tour: In the Corners of the HistoryRabin Boaz Pash – especially for 31st JCF
  • Guided tour: Kazimierz: pomiędzy – Paulina Żelazko – especially for 31st JCF
  • Guided tour: Kazimierz: in between – Paulina Żelazko – especially for 31st JCF
  • Guided tour: Pодинна екскурсія | A Family Walk. Вулицями краківського Казімєжа – Along the Streets of Kazimierz Irena  Michałowicz – especially for 31st JCF
  • Guided tour: Woda życiaAnna Kiesell – especially for 31st JCF
  • Guided tour: Water of LifeAnna Kiesell – especially for 31st JCF

OTHER EVENTS

  • Mayim Chayim, or the Water in the Mill of Jewish Music – radio program by Janusz Makuch. Cooperation: Radio Kraków – especially for 31st JCF
  • Preserving Memory – ceremony honoring Poles, who rescued Jewish heritage. Cooperation: Michael Traison Fund for Poland, Galicia Jewish Museum
  • New Realties of Jewish Heritage. A conference marking the 10th anniversary of Jewish Heritage Europe – Organized by: Galicia Jewish Museum, Taube Center for Jewish Life & Learning, Jewish Heritage Europe, in partnership with the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland and the Jewish Culture Festival. 
  • Film screening: On a hajm – Bal shuwe (Homeless), dir. by. Aleksander Marten, 1939
  • Film screening: Houses of Life – Beit haim, dir. By Stanisław Janicki, 1987
  • Shabbat Brunch – menu: Cheder crew – especially for 31st JCF

WORKSHOPS FOR SENIORS

  1. Series of events prepared by The Machers – festival volunteers.
  • Der klang fun Aszkenaz / The Sound of Ashkenaz – workshops of Jewish Ukrainian songs with cantor Svetlana Kundish – especially for 31st JCF
  • Hazana – Workshop of zero Waste CookingAnna Patrzałek, Banki Żywności – especially for 31st JCF
  • Legends about Kazimierz. Workshop of mezen painting: Lolita Igorivna Wrzeczynska – especially for 31st JCF.

VISUAL ARTS

  • Opening of the exhibition: Living Under Water. A Jewish Exploration of Climate Change. Artists: Dov Abramson, Andi Arnovitz, Lynne Avadenka, Meydad Eliyahu, Ken Goldman, Leora Wise; curator: Andi Arnovitz. Cooperation: Beit Venezia. A Home for Jewish Culture i Mostowa Kawa Sztuka
  • MAISEH. A series of site-specific art projects. Artists: Wojtek Blecharz, Hadassa Goldvicht, Cecylia Malik, Stefanie Oberhoff, Christoph Rothmeier, Kobi Vogman, Yuval Yairi. Curators: Curatorial Collective for Public Art (Berlin): Yael Sherill, Lianne Mol, Julia Kawka; HaMiffal (Jerusalem): Meydad Eliyahu; FKŻ (Kraków): Paweł Kowalewski. This project is co-financed by the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation and the Goethe Institute Krakow – especially for 31st JCF.

EVENTS WITHIN MAISEH PROJECT

  • Curatorial tour: Meydad Eliyahu (2 tours) – especially for 31st JCF
  • MAISEH. Meeting with an artist: Yuval Yairi – especially for 31st JCF
  • MAISEH. Curatorial tour: Paweł Kowalewski (2 tours) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Meeting with an artist: Wojtek Blecharz – especially for 31st JCF
  • Curatorial tour: Lianne Mol (2 tours) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Meeting with an artist: Christoph Rothmeier – especially for 31st JCF
  • Curatorial tour: Julia Kawka (3 tours) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Meeting with an artist: Paulina Witaszczyk – especially for 31st JCF
  • Meeting with an artist: Kobi Vogman – especially for 31st JCF
  • Meeting with an artist: Cecylia Malik – especially for 31st JCF
  • MAISEH. Curatorial tour: Yael Sherill (2 tours) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Meeting with an artist: Stefanie Oberhoff – especially for 31st JCF
  • Performance Pigeon GirlStefanie Oberhoff (7 workshopów) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Performance Pigeon GirlStefanie Oberhoff – especially for 31st JCF
  • High WatersCecylia Malik(7 workshopów) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Performance High WatersCecylia Malik – especially for 31st JCF
  • Things to Buy in KazimierzHadassa Goldvicht (10 letters online) – especially for 31st JCF
  • Touch-move RuleKobi Vogman (art installation – a giant collage created together with audience – especially for 31st JCF
  • Observation Point – Yuval Yairi (installation, drawings) – especially for 31st JCF
Cecylia Malik: High Waters - performance
Kobi Vogman - Touch Move Rule
Cecylia Malik: Wezbranie / High Waters - workshops
Stefanie Oberhoff - Pigeon Girl - workshops
Hadassa Goldvicht - Things to Buy in Kazimierz
Cecylia Malik: High Waters - performance
Christoff Rothmeyer - Have You Seen My Eyes? (sound installation)
Wojtek Blecharz - An Endless Dance (sound installation)
Yuval Yairi - Observation Point
Stafenie Oberhoff - Pigeon Girl - performance
Stafenie Oberhoff - Pigeon Girl - performance
Stafenie Oberhoff - Pigeon Girl - performance

Complete list of events, including main program and accompanying events is available under this link.