Jewish culture festival revisits pre-Holocaust life in Warsaw
In addition to musical and theatrical performances, the weeklong event will feature kosher cooking classes, a 1930s fashion parade, and an activity for children where they can build Leggo models of pre-war Warsaw.
A Jewish culture festival will kick off in Warsaw on August 25, bringing color and vigor to the capital of Poland, which was home to more than 300,000 Jews prior to World War Two.
Events will take place in outdoor arenas, inside the Jewish theater, at the ancient Nożyk Synagogue and even at the Catholic Church. There, "Jesus in the Ghetto," a poem by Yiddish writer Sholem Asch will be read out, and the concert “East Meets East” will be performed by Nigel Kennedy and Krok.
The festival will open with a concert by the philharmonic orchestra from Opole, featuring cantor Moshe Schulhof from the United States and Ella Milch-Sheriff from Israel.
One of the central attractions of the event will take place in an abandoned building on Próżna Street, where an exhibition will display photos of daily Jewish life from before the Holocaust. Visitors will be able to roam ten of the building's empty rooms for three hours, listening to the echoes of the Yiddish language and traditional Jewish music. Food stands will line the streets, resembling those that stood in the Jewish city before the Holocaust, to create an authentic historical atmosphere in the area.
Other events include guided tours of a mikveh and storytelling sessions, where the best of Jewish literature will be read out. Events dedicated to children include, among others, building models of old Jewish towns using toys supplied by Leggo, as well as attending theatrical productions for children. For the adults, a fashion parade will display clothes of the 1930s and cooking classes will offer the opportunity for patrons to learn how to prepare traditional Jewish foods. A kosher restaurant will be opened during the festival, too.
On the anniversary of the day World War Two began, September 1, a concert will be held at the Nożyk Synagogue with singers from the U.S., along with Jerusalem's Voices From Heaven choir, conducted by Rafael Biton. Preceding that, a variety of songs by Icyk Manger will be performed on the stage of the Ida Kaminska Jewish Theater.
The weeklong festival of Jewish culture is being organized by the Shalom Foundation, under the leadership of Golda Tencer, and is supported by the culture ministry, Warsaw municipality and the embassies of Israel, the United States and Germany.
The event will end on September 2, with a concert and dance performance, "Life on Próżna Street", concluding with a service at the memorial plaza for Warsaw Ghetto Uprising heroes.