A view of Krakow, Poland.
A view of Krakow, Poland. Photo by Wikimedia Commons
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Wikipedia Commons
The Vistula River, Krakow, Poland. Photo by Wikipedia Commons

While sports fans in Poland are engrossed in the Euro 2012 soccer finals, the Jewish community has its own sporting event to enjoy. The 22nd Jewish Culture Festival kicked off on Friday in Krawkow, marking the beginning of a nine-day festival of art, science, politics and philosophy. And the opening act: a lecture on Jewish sports.

Over the nine-day festival, audience members visiting this historical city to soak up some "Yiddishkeit" will be presented with a wide range of cultural events intended to present Jewish creativity from various angles. This year's festival, unlike in former years, will host a larger number of international acts, including artists, scientists and ensembles form various countries including Israel.

Already on the first night of the festival, audience members met the sculptor Danny Caravan who dedicated his lecture to the connection between creation and the place of creation. Three days later, Prof. Shlomo Avineri will raise the issue of the integration of exiles in Israel and two days after that the Polish historian Grzegorz Gembala will discuss the "Six Days that Changed the Middle East.”

But, the main part of the event will be devoted to artists and their artworks. From the song of American chazanim to a sail down the Vistula River on a boat with dance performances and tastes of the Yemen kitchen, and topped off with musical performances and painting exhibitions.

A cross-section of Polish performers and presenters will see various events being devoted to the connection between the two nations - events which will be centered around the spirit of Janusz Korczak.

An important part of the schedule is designated to teenagers. A local lecturer, Olga Andrychowska, will present a speech on Tel Aviv, while important artistic performances include "Dancing with Chopin in Galicia", which will be performed by Rina Shenfeld's theater company at the local "Midrash Theater", and a concert of 15 musicians, "Mash Dondurma", which will be performed by Jews of Bukhara.

Throughout the nine-day festival, organized visits will be arranged at the ancient and renovated synagogues in the Jewish quarter along with tours throughout the city.