Monday, September 1, 2008

Singer Festival in Warsaw Sept. 6-14

The fifth annual Singer's Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture takes place Sept. 6-14. The program is a rich mix of performance, workshops, book presentations and lectures -- most of which, however, seem to be in Polish.

Music stars this year include the Klezmatics, Yale Strom, and Chava Alberstein.

The Festival (which coincides with the European Day of Jewish Culture, Sept. 7) includes various open air events and a street fair that takes place in and around Prozna Street, the semi-ruined block in downtown Warsaw that is just about the only piece of the Warsaw ghetto area to have survived World War II. There have been ongoing debates for years about what to do with Prozna; whether and to preserve it, whether it should form the center of a Jewish life museum, etc.

I was encouraged to see that there is now an upscale little cafe and gallery functioning in Prozna, as well as a couple of other businesses. For the festival, many of the bricked-up windows have been covered with pictures of pre-war Jews.

The Singer festival is sponsored by the Shalom Foundation, headed by the Lodz-born Yiddish singer Golda Tencer. Tencer's husband, Szymon Szurmiej, directs Warsaw's State Jewish Theater. The Festival this year includes celebrations for his 85th birthday. Shalom supports many Yiddish-language oriented projects, including a web site called

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