Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Poland: Time for Krakow Jewish Festival

Krakow, Poland. Top: Tempel Synagogue interior. Bottom: Matzevah of Moses Isserles (Remu).
Photos: Samuel D. Gruber 1996, 2008).

Poland: Time for Krakow Jewish Festival
by Samuel D. Gruber

The 19th Annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow will be held form June 27th to July 5th, 2009. The full program can be consulted here.

Over the past twenty years Ruth Ellen Gruber has written a lot about the annual Krakow Jewish Festival. On her blog, she looks ahead to this festival. The festival has grown, evolved, and matured in two decades. Growing from what was first described as an event "where Poles dressed up as Jews to entertain German tourists," the Festival has developed in to one of the most vibrant and popular showcases of Polish and International Jewish culture in Europe. Jews from Poland, surrounding countries, Israel and America have made the Festival a regular destination; and thousands of non-Jews are exposed every year to new, exciting, engaging aspects of Jewish culture. So may still perpetuate stereotypes, but most break them, but showing Jewish culture to both traditional and contemporary.

Ruth writes that the "articles are beginning to appear in newspapers and online....click here for one in the Jerusalem Post. According to the Festival's web site, the Festival recently took first place in a survey on what is Krakow's best product for tourists."

Besides being a active week for Jewish music, dance, art, lectures and happy schmoozing, the Festival is one of the best times to see Krakow's historic - and mostly restored - synagogues and other Jewish sites. Concerts are held in the 19th-century Tempel and other synagogues. There are regular tours of the synagogues, and my good friend Rabbi Edgar Gluck, Chief Rabbi of Galicia will give a tour of the Remu Synagogue Cemetery on July 1st.

Rabbi Edgar Gluck at Jewish Cemetery, Belz, Ukraine. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2006

Each year the Festival is bigger and bigger, so if you are planning on going, you should book your accommodation now.

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