Jewish Culture Festival

Jewish culture in Poland hasn’t just survived, but thrives and there is no better place to experience its revival, than the 10-day Jewish Culture Festival in Cracow.

Jewish Culture Festival

What: 28th Jewish Culture Festival: Zion

Where: various locations, Cracow, Poland

When: 23.06 – 01.07.2018,

What to expect: concerts, performances, meetings, workshops, lectures, exhibitions and tours

Festival website: http://www.jewishfestival.pl/en/

Held in Kazimierz, the historical Jewish quarter of Cracow, which is now a vibrant, almost bohemian district full of art galleries, restaurants and cafes, the Festival is a celebration of contemporary art, music and literature created in Israel and all around the world by the Jewish Diaspora.  

The theme of this year’s edition, which will be held on 23 June – 1 July, is Zion, as it will coincide with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel. The estimated 30,000 visitors can expect over 300 events conducted in historical buildings, such as the fully restored Tempel Synagogue, the Cheder (named after the Yiddish word for primary school for boys) – a café and a cultural centre, as well as the clubs and on the streets of the quarter.

Each year, the program consists of as many elements and topics, as there are influences brought by the Jewish (from Israel and beyond), Polish and other artists. The guests will have a chance to take part in jam sessions, klezmer or Hasidic music workshops, learn to sing in Yiddish, prepare (and taste) Jewish dishes, attend lectures, discuss the realities of the life in diaspora, take part in guided tours and visit art exhibitions. The culminating point of the festival will be the concert Szalom on Szeroka Street, a favourite event of all who return to the JCF year after year.

The Jewish Culture Festival was created in 1988 (before the fall of communism!) by Janusz Makuch - a non-Jewish Pole. Makuch and others like him longed for the revival of a culture lost due to the Holocaust, a culture that used to be an integral part and a positive influence of everyday life in Poland. During the 30 years of its existence, the Festival grew to be the biggest cultural meeting of the Jewish diaspora in Europe, if not in the world.

The Festival is not only limited to 10 intense days in the summer. Throughout the year, the organizers and the Machers (group of volunteers) coordinate a plethora of other initiatives, such as the March of Remembrance – commemorating the liquidation of the Cracow Ghetto in 1943; displaying the exhibitions from the Festival in other Polish cities, as well as Brussels, Tel Aviv and San Francisco; commissioning Kazimierz-centric novels and murals; and a program for seniors comprised of cultural workshops and meetings, which enable the integration between the older and younger generations.