The 24th Simcha Jewish Culture Festival starting on 30 July!
This year’s Simcha will begin on 30 July and run until 5 August. The festival will traditionally take place at the White Stork Synagogue and other locations in the Quarter of Mutual Respect. Traditionally, the festival will be attended by our scholars from the Chair of Jewish Studies, and the event will be held under the honorary patronage of the Rector of the University of Wrocław prof. Robert Olkiewicz. The programme includes, among other things, many interesting meetings with authors, an excellent concert block, which will be opened with a performance of the Ukrainian band Kommuna Lux from Odessa. There will also be the traditional Jewish Fair, workshops, film screenings, guided walks and a variety of attractions for adults and children. This year, a large part of the programme is made up of author meetings around Jewish-themed books. On 2.08. at 5.00 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Chair of Jewish Studies at the University of Wrocław, dr Joanna Degler (Lisek), will host a meeting with Mira Krum-Ledowska, author of the book “Królewna z kukurydzy” (“Corn Princess”- Kol lsze Publishing House).
The theme of this year’s Simcha Jewish Culture Festival is the account of Jewish life in the Eastern Borderlands – the lands of the former Republic of Poland and the present-day territories of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. On this occasion, the organisers have invited Kommuna Lux, a band from Odessa in Ukraine with a unique style combining klezmer music with Odessa Gangsta Folk, to open the Festival. The band will play for the first time in Wrocław – a performance not to be missed! The programme will also include a lecture entitled “Ukraine – Jewish Paradise and Hell (16th century – 20th century)”, which will be given by Professor Leszek Ziątkowski on 2 August. However, despite the war in Ukraine and such difficult times, the Wrocław Festival also wants to preserve its main message and, as every year, become a pretext for everyone to spend time together full of tolerance, solidarity and joy, as well as to build intercultural dialogue and spread knowledge of Jewish traditions and culture. After all, in Hebrew, Simcha means joy!
This year, a large part of the programme is made up of author meetings around Jewish-themed books. On 2.08. at 5.00 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Department of Jewish Studies at Wrocław University, Dr. Joanna Degler (Lisek) will host a meeting with Mira Krum-Ledowska, author of the book “Królewna z kukurydzy” (“Corn Princess”- Kol lsze Publishing House). In this book, the writer leads us through images from her life with detachment, at times with irony, but also with emotion and tenderness. From the struggle for survival during the war, through the post-war years in Jelenia Góra and Wrocław, her painful departure from Poland, the kibbutzes and the Israeli army, her work as a teacher to the Polish bookshop in Tel Aviv. On the other hand, on 4.08. at 5 p.m. in the Mleczarnia club café there will be an opportunity to listen to Ula Rybicka (from Żydoteka) talk to Rafał Hetman, a reporter and the author of the famous book entitled “Izbica, Izbica” (Czarne Publishing House), which tells the wartime fate of a small town near Lublin. Hetman’s book was nominated for the “Polityka” Historical Award and reached the final of the Ryszard Kapuściński Award. During Simcha, we will also hear about another prize-winning literary work, namely one of the most famous novels by the Israeli prose writer David Grosman, entitled “Wchodzi koń do baru” (“A horse walks into a bar”- Znak Literanova) for which the author received the prestigious Booker Prize. The discussion around this publication will also be led by Ula Rybicka as part of the Jewish Book Club organised by Żydoteka. This meeting will take place in Mleczarnia on 3.08. at 17:00.
This year’s programme also includes a number of proposals for spending time together in the open air, such as the Israeli Breakfast in the Garden of the Ethnographic Museum in Wrocław, evening Jewish dance workshops and a traditional Jewish Fair on Sunday in the courtyard of the White Stork Synagogue. The festival will begin with the Israeli Breakfast (Saturday 30.07, 10.00 am – 2.00 pm) in the climatic Garden of the Ethnographic Museum in Wrocław, where breakfast delicacies of Israeli cuisine will be served by the Wege Roots catering service. During this picnic event, many attractions await us such as: “MESS, OR JEWISH MISH-MASH”. – a presentation of short literary and artistic forms with the participation of the audience, which will be led by Tomasz Kwietko-Bębnowski from the Wrocław branch of the Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Poland (TSKŻ), Jewish dance workshops with Dorota Kapusta, Hebrew calligraphy workshops for children led by Sylwia Lubiejewska (firstname.lastname@example.org, admission free) or art workshops for adults – a painted symbol with Marzena Domitrz-Fortun (email@example.com, admission free).
Jewish Fair, guided walks, films, workshops
On Sunday, 31 July, you definitely cannot miss the all-day (10am to 8pm), traditional, colourful Jewish Fair in the courtyard of the White Stork Synagogue. Exhibitors and restaurateurs offering kosher food, organic products, handicrafts, art, toys, clothes, souvenirs and even natural cosmetics from the Dead Sea will be waiting there. There are additional attractions to take part in during the Fair – workshops on intercultural interreligious education for families will be led by Eliza Gaust and Dawid Gurfinkiel from the HaKoach Association in Łódź (firstname.lastname@example.org, admission free). Another proposal in which whole families can participate will be a Yiddish song workshop with Sylwia Lubiejewska from the Tikkun Olam School (admission free, no registration). On Sunday, at 4 pm, the first guided walk entitled “Jewish Stop – Wrocław” will take place. Registration is required (email@example.com). It will be led by Dr Anna Kałużna from Jewish Studies at the University of Wrocław. Walking along the streets of Wrocław with her, we will hear about the Jewish Theological Seminary, which attracted students from all over Europe, about places where famous scientists, artists, collectors, businessmen, philanthropists of Jewish origin lived, and finally about how Jewish life was rebuilt here after World War II. Another proposal is a literary-historical walk in the south of Wrocław under the motto “Julius Schottländer and Jewish art collectors”. This route will be followed on Wednesday, 3.08 at 6.00 p.m. with Tamara Włodarczyk, and Tomasz Kwietko-Bębnowski /TSKŻ Oddział Wrocław/ will enrich the walk by reading literary excerpts (firstname.lastname@example.org, admission free). The guided tour of the Quarter of Mutual Respect of the Four Religions led by prof. Adam Jezierski of the University of Wrocław is also very popular (5.08., 16:00, admission free, no registration). On the other hand, those who are curious about the appearance and history of the White Stork Synagogue should go on a tour with Jerzy Kichler from the Jewish Community in Wrocław on 1.08. at 15:30 (email@example.com, free entry). An equally interesting destination is the Old Jewish Cemetery at ul. Ślężna 37/39. A tour there (4.08, 4.00 p.m.) will be led by Aneta Ziółkowska from the Wrocław City Museum; registration is required (firstname.lastname@example.org, admission free).
New at this year’s Festival will be a radio play! On Sunday 31.07 at 5:30 p.m. in Mleczarnia the audience will listen to a radio play entitled ”Żydowski kalejdoskop radiowy” (Jewish Radio Kaleidoscope), which will take us into the world of artistic life of the inter-war period. It will be an attempt to revive a world that has passed away, but which can exist in our imagination thanks to the magic of radio. In the radio play, which takes the form of a fictional radio programme, we will meet Adi Rosner, Adam Aston, Michał Waszyński, Tamara Łempicka and Janusz Korczak on the airwaves. The action will be set to the sounds of wonderful original music from the period. “Jewish Radio Kaleidoscope” was produced this year by Radio Gdańsk, as part of the Festival of Lost Culture organised by the Museum of the Second World War. The presentation of the radio play will be accompanied by a meeting with its director, Artur Hofman, who will be interviewed by Tamara Włodarczyk (TSKŻ Wrocław Branch). Another opportunity to listen to extremely interesting stories told by Tamara Włodarczyk will be provided the following day (Monday, 1 August at 5:30 pm) by an extraordinary multimedia lecture entitled “Jewish Artists in Polish Film of the Interwar Period”. The starting point for this story will be the greatest musical hits of pre-war cinema by Jewish artists – such as Henryk Wars, Marian Hemar, Alfred Schütz and Konrad Tom. They will be heard in pre-war original recordings performed by, among others, Adam Aston and the Henryk Gold orchestra. There will also be information about the most outstanding films of the golden era of Yiddish cinema, which was an important part of Polish cinematography at the time.
As every year during Simcha, there will also be an interesting exhibition. This time on the emporium of the White Stork Synagogue the exhibition “SCHMITZLER PEOPLE. RESIDENTS OF SNIATYN” and its opening on Sunday 31.07 at 19.00 will be accompanied by a lecture by Anatol Kaszen. The exhibition is devoted to identity in the cultural borderland and the relations between inhabitants of different nationalities, using the history of Sniatyn, a town in Eastern Galicia, as an example. It was prepared by the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow in cooperation with the History Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv.
Traditionally, language workshops will also be held during Simcha. This year the languages will be Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino – the classes are open, no registration.
Concerts: Kommuna Lux from Ukraine and the best Polish performers of Jewish music
The concert block of this year’s Simcha will begin on Saturday, 30 July, with a traditional Klezmer Havdalah, i.e. a unique, extremely energetic concert – this time performed by the Kommuna Lux band from Ukraine, which will play in Wrocław for the first time and present us with gangsta folk straight from Odessa. Even before the musicians take to the stage, the audience will have the opportunity to participate in the traditional Jewish havdalah ceremony, i.e. the separation of festive time from everyday time at the end of Shabbat. In the following days, outstanding Polish performers of Jewish music will perform on the festival stage at the White Stork Synagogue. We will hear the Simcha Rotary Concert performed by Warszawska Orkiestra Sentymentalna (the Warsaw Sentimental Orchestra), the Yaron Trio band, which will present the premiere programme “Carmina Judaica“, the captivating Kinder Yorn band with musical tales from a Jewish town, and the most beautiful Jewish songs performed by Magda Brudzińska. The concert block will conclude with a unique performance by Poland’s only synagogue choir, the Choir of the White Stork Synagogue conducted by Stanisław Rybarczyk, who will perform a programme entitled “Jazz Inspirations” together with renowned musician Piotr Baron. A detailed description of the concert block can be found at www.simcha.art.pl.
Tickets for all concerts are on sale online at www.ticketmaster.pl and in the Media Markt chain of shops throughout Poland, at the Tourist and Bicycle Information Centre (8 Św. Antoniego Street) and 2 hours before the concert at the White Stork Synagogue.
As every year, we will also watch films! The Simcha Cinema will run every day at 8.30 pm in Mleczarnia. The film screenings will take place thanks to the cooperation with the Kamera Davida Foundation/Warsaw Jewish Film Festival and the Israeli Embassy in Poland; admission is free. The introduction to the film each evening will be prepared by cultural expert Agata Janikowska from the University of Wrocław. The repertoire of Simcha Cinema can be found in the programme at www.simcha.art.pl.
The festival will traditionally conclude with a Kabbalat Shabbat welcome service open to all at the White Stork Synagogue (5.08., 19.30). This year, the service will be led by Jerzy Kichler (a member of the Wrocław Jewish Community Board) and cantor Marek Marosanyi.
This year, the Simcha Jewish Culture Festival is also accompanied by an attractive accompanying programme.
One of the proposals is the Move On Together Israeli Way programme, initiated in Wrocław by Patrycja Zasławska. It is a series of workshops devoted to Israeli movement techniques that revolutionise the contemporary approach to dance, the relationship with the body and our environment. All methods draw inspiration from Jewish philosophy: celebrating life and creating connections with the world around us. Techniques presented include Gaga, Ilan Lev Method, Movement, Feldenkrais Method, Israeli Folklore and Research. Classes will take place at the Studio na Grobli from 3 to 7 August, passes apply. The project is carried out in cooperation with Nevatim – The Jewish Agency for Israel in Germany and partner institutions: Hillel Poland, Simcha Jewish Culture Festival, Jerzy Grotowski Institute. You can read about the details and prices here: https://www.facebook.com/events/774613233695911
The second proposal from the programme accompanying the Simcha Festival is aimed at children.
The Wrocław CHEDER is a half-camp for children organised by the Tikkun Olam Private Primary School from 26 to 31 July. Cheder (from Hebrew חדר – peace) is the name of an elementary, religious Jewish school. The organisers decided to combine tradition with modernity and invite children aged 8 to 12 to participate in a four-day project – a Jewish school. However, these will not be traditional school lessons! In a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, children will unleash their creativity during art, cooking, music and even theatre classes. Thanks to the presence of English translators, the offer is not only aimed at Polish-speaking participants! The aim of the Wrocław “cheder” is to familiarise children with the rich Jewish culture, which is inextricably linked to the history of both Wrocław and Poland. Educators from the Tikkun Olam School leading the classes are: Sylwia Lubiejewska, Marzena Domitrz-Fortuna, Justyna Figurska, Ada Zjawin – volunteer English translator and Lena Wentland-Zjawin – educator and manager of the Tikkun Olam School.
Read about the details and prices here: https://www.facebook.com/events/740003670663003?ref=newsfeed
A detailed programme of the 24th Simcha Jewish Culture Festival can be found at www.simcha.art.pl. Admission to most events (except concerts) is free.
The Festival is organised by the Pro Arte 2002 Foundation.
The project is co-financed by: Municipality of Wrocław, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, Marshal’s Office of the Lower Silesian Voivodship, The Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, Embassy of Israel in Poland, PZU Foundation and Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Poland.
Ministry of the Internal Affairs and Administration
Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
Embassy of Israel in Poland
Marshall of the Lower Silesian Voivodship Cezary Przybylski
Mayor of Wrocław Jacek Sutryk
Rector of the University of Wrocław Prof. Dr. Robert Olkiewicz
President of the Jewish Community of Wrocław Klara Kołodziejska-Połtyn