Fire is one of the four core elements which emerged in the act of world creation. God created light as the first and, having seen that it was good, He separated it from the darkness.
Fire – Light – Flame – Radiance play a significant role in Judaism. And in our everyday lives. As long as we are kindled with the fire of passion and love, we are alive.
We, the Festival people are connected together by the fire of mutual fascination for the world of the Jewish culture and fascination with it. This is the culture as vivid and changeable as the fire which spawned it.
When we talk about fire in the context of the Jewish culture, for some this may be a painful connotation – the fire of the Holocaust. Yet, the cold fire of the Holocaust dies down in the ashes. The fire of love never fades and lightens up the life.
All the civilizations which claimed the right to eternity fell down and passed away. The Jewish civilization survived. And it lives on. It is like “ner tamid” – the fire which burns, but it does not burn down; it is an eternal light which reflects good and evil, wisdom and stupidity.
Our Festival exists thanks to Light: for more than 30 years it has been absorbing it and, at the same time, it radiates with the living light of the Jewish culture.
“I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness”. (Ecclesiastes 2,13)
the JCF Founder and Director
When planning the jubilee edition of the JCF, we did not know in what conditions it would be carried out. We tried to plan it in such a way that no matter what the binding pandemic regulations were, the Festival could take place not only in an online form, but also in reality and we could actually meet in Kazimierz.
From the very beginning we knew that, for logistic reasons, we would have to give up some of the events. The most difficult decision was certainly to call off the Shalom on Szeroka street concert. We are aware that for many of you this concert makes up the quintessence of the Jewish Culture Festival, but to get such a big machine going without being certain that the concert could take place, would not be a responsible thing to do.
That is why, we decided that most of the events would be held outside: so that the comfort of staying within the Festival space would be the largest. The tent which we set up in Kazimierz for the first time in 2019 thus became the best place for this year’s edition.
FESTIVAL TENT was a venue for 90% of festival events: lectures, debates, meetings, workshops, but also concerts, live radio broadcasts and auditions.
Debates about sisterhood, Workshops For Seniors, Morning Papers series, Literary Program as well as many other events were also held in the tent.
We thought that after months of isolation, it would be worthwhile to take you for a walk – certainly a walk through Kazimierz.
KUMZITS, a series of artistic interventions was a good reason to take a walk in Kazimierz. The artists from the entire world, selected by the project curators within open recruitment process, created 8 remote projects strongly rooted in the history and in the present of this district. With the help of their local partners and thanks to the Internet and other new forms of communication, this idea was materialized so Kumzits – together with the Tent – became one of the most visible elements of the jubilee JCF.
Travelling restrictions made it impossible to come to the Festival not only for our regular guests from outside Poland and Europe, but also for many artists, thus this JCF edition was very local, and – as every JCF – strongly rooted in the reality of the surrounding world.
The leading topic of the 30th JCF was fire. Anda Rottenberg, prof. Ernest Niemczyk, prof. Jacek Leociak and Janusz Makuch discussed various aspects of fire in the culture, history and art, whilst rabbi Boaz Pash told us about light in Judaism.
We invited Marta Majchrzak, the founder of herstories.pl, who prepared a series of four panels with a common title – Sisterhood. It was joined by renowned artists and activists; among others these were: Monika Krajewska, Zuzanna Hertzberg, Joanna Pawlik, Betty Q, Maria Świetlik.
A series of morning meetings, titled Morning Papers, was prepared on our invitation by Aga Kozak. This new format for the JCF contained not only the discussion of interesting press articles, but was also an opportunity to talk with interesting guests, such as Joanna Grzymała – Moszczyńska, Yael Sherill, Bartek Kieżun, Przemek Krupski and Wojciech Skulski.
The symbol for this year’s edition, also showing the direction for future, was the concert of female cantors, held in the Tempel synagogue and closing the 30th JCF.
For the first time in a few hundred years’ long history of this temple and for the first time in Poland, the liturgy songs were sung by women – female cantors: Sveta Kundish, Rachel Weston and Aviv Weinberg, who were accompanied by an orchestra created especially for this event from Polish and foreign musicians.
Female cators’ concert, Sisterhood series or Morning Papers were not the only projects commissioned for the 30th Jewish Culture Festival.
Another one was the Polish-Israeli tribute paid to Nicolaus Copernicus. The yard of the Collegium Maius, lit with photon mapping, became the scene for the music pieces, composed especially for this Polish astronomer by the Israeli duo, Dark Matter and a Polish vocalist, Erith and performed by them right next to the manuscript of Copernicus’ greatest work.
Love And Exile. Borderland – Warsaw – Israel – this was the title of sound lecture and concert prepared especially for JCF by Jan Młynarski and his Combo Salonowym. That was a journey through pre-war and post-war music composed and performed by Jewish artists.
Gad Tidhar – Israeli oud player recorded by us his solo concert at the Negev Desert under the title Baharim. This concert was presented in our Tent and the guests could enjoy tea with mint served by our volunteers.
Max Czollek – a famous German social activist and artist – created for us a series of events showing the change of the situation o the Jews in the German society in the recent years and illustrating also what their contemporary identity is like.
The Festival volunteers – the Machers – prepared a series of events for the oldest guests of the Festival – Workshops for Seniors.
Beyond cantorial concert perfomred by female cantors Sveta Kundish, Aviv Weinberg and Rachel Weston; pre-war tangos presented by Jan Młynarski; and electronic music performed by Dark Matter and Erith, during 30th JCF you could also enjoy klezmer music perfomed by three violin players (Oksana Balatsko, Małgorzata Spiechlanin, Zofia Wydra) during Zahor ceremony and contemporary Yiddish music by Jordan Lee Schnee as well as a capell folk songs from various regions of the world by trio Gurgulitza.
Łona and Webber – one of the most popular Polish hip-hop bands – to surprise of many our guests also performed at the festival. They presented their recent album deeply rooted in music of various minorities living in Poland. Jealous – Berlin-based Israeli punk band performed definitely the loudest concert at the festival this year.
Festival audience could also enjoy many DJ-sets, performed this year by: Adam Kvasnica, Kixnare, DJ Falafel, Eta Hox i Daniel Drumz, as well as classical music in a concert series Classics At Noon performed by Duo Marimbazzi. This concert was streamed live to three locations in Krakow’s parks.
The music events comprised not only concerts and DJ-sets, but also radio plays (also those broadcast live from the JCF Tent), soundlectures, music film screenings (including recent film by Kutiman), screening of pre-war film Golem with music played live by Sarapata and Marcela Rybska, a discussion about contemporary Jewish music with Frank London, Neta Elkayam, Jeremiah Lockwood and Raphael Roginski, as well as conversation with Yossi Notkowitz – producer of festival’s cantors’ concerts.
For the first time, music was also a part of Literary Program Apart from meetings with such authors as David Grossman, Bernardo Kuciński or Piotr Smolar – we presented also a concert by Vysokie Celo ensemble and two storytelling performances by Studnia O.
The jubilee JCF did not lack the culinary tones.
Apart from the traditional Shabbat breakfast with live music in the Festival’s Cheder, we also invited our guests for a special dinner in the woods near Krakow, in the “Ogień” (“Fire”) restaurant. The meeting was hosted by Robert Makłowicz, whilst the menu was prepared by Aleksander Baron.
Most of the events were availabl;e live in internet on a special platform we created in that purpose. Recordnigs are still available free of charge at 30.jewishfestival.pl, as well as on our Vimeo channel (see below).
Streaming platform is a public task financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland within the grant competition “Public Diplomacy 2021” “
artists, lecturers, instructors
countries of volunteers’ origin
users of festival website
number of views
followers on Facebook
followers on Instagram
social media outreach
articles in Polish media
outreach of media information (excl.social media)
|161 180 PLN
Above infomration refer to the period between June 1st – July 10th, 2021 and are based on data available on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram as well as Brand24 portal.
President of the Society and Director of the Festival: Janusz Makuch
Festival office: Edyta Gawlak, Robert Gądek, Paweł Kowalewski, Julia Lorenc, Katarzyna Wydra
Accounting: Maria Bobrowska, Klaudia Czaja, Monika Dyrlaga, Elżbieta Woch-Stopa
Social media person: Michalina Pieczonka
Coordination of volunteers: Łukasz Drużkowski, Michał Dziewit, Maria Kistowska, Paulina Kowalska, Monika Krawczyk, Grzegorz Mikunda, Aleksandra Trakul, Małgorzata Wolska
Technical services: Agencja Artystyczna Duo Marek Suszkiewicz, FS Audio Maciej Fryc
Live streaming: Eventstream Wojciech Sadowski, Grzegorz Staszek, Artur Staszek
Visual identification and streaming platform were created by Studio Otwarte
Photo: Edyta Dufaj, Wojciech Krysiak, Karolina Moskała, Michał Ramus
Tent design: Marta Staszków
This project was commissioned by the 30th JCF and organized in partnership with Curatorial Collective for Public Art from Berlin and HaMiffal from Jerusalem, and was co-financed by the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, Goethe Institute and The City of Jerusalem.
Literary Program was organized in cooperation with Krakow Festival Office
Series of events prepared and moderated by Aga Kozak
Series of events prepared by festival volunteers – The Machers
Series of panel discussions curated by Marta Majchrzak, commissioned by the 30th JCF
Series of events commissioned by the 30th JCF, curated by Max Czollek and organized in cooperation with Goethe Institut, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg