Friday, February 26, 2010

Jewish Culture/Music/Etc Festivals 2010

 Posters for last year's Quarter6Quarter7 Hanukkah festival in Budapest. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber


A number of Jewish culture festivals of all sorts take place around Europe in the spring and summer (and beyond). Some are dedicated just to music. Some to film. Others are much broader. As far as I know, there is no central web site where you can find information on all of them. I will begin to post information here on dates and venues. I ask my readers to please send me information to include!

The culture festivals and other smaller events make good destinations around which to center a trip. Some, like the annual Festival of Jewish Culture in Krakow, are huge events lasting a week or more, which draw thousands of people and offer scores or sometimes hundreds of performances, lectures, concerts, exhibits and the like. Other festivals are much less ambitious. Some are primarily workshops but also feature concerts. Many of the same artists perform at more than one festival.

 The list will be growing and growing -- and again,  I ask my readers to please send me information and links to upcoming events. Thanks!

ALL OVER EUROPE -- 11th annual European Day of Jewish Culture. The first Sunday in September -- Sept. 5. Events take place in nearly 30 countries. The theme this year is Art and Judaism.


April 22-27 -- Vienna --  Stay Jewish! (Film Festival)

October 14-November 14 -- Vienna -- Yiddish Culture Autumn (web site under construction)

November 6 -  21 -- Vienna -- KlezMORE festival (this year's program is not up yet)


Aug. 23-31 -- Opatija -- Bejahad 2010


July 8-11 -- Boskovice -- Boskovice Festival. Mainly jazz, but also an emphasis on Jewish culture, given the importance of the well-preserved former Jewish quarter, cemetery and Jewish museum in the restored synagogue.

July 29-31 -- Trebic -- Seventh edition of the Trebic Jewish Culture Festival, held in the Czech Republic's most extensive preserved former Jewish quarter


April 9 - July 18 -- Paris -- Radical Jewish Culture exhibit (and concerts), Jewish Museum

June 13-28 -- Paris --  6th Festival of Jewish Cultures

July 5-9 -- Paris -- Klezmer Paris festival Lots of workshops from an all-star international team of  musicians and teachers.

November 6-13 -- Lyons -- International Jewish Music Festival 

Nov.21-Dec. 13 -- Paris -- Jazz'n'Klezmer festival, 9th edition.


March 5-14  -- Fürth -- Fürth International Klezmer Festival (12th edition)

July 3-August 2  -- Weimar -- Yiddish Summer Weimar

October 17-31 -- Dresden -- The 14th Yiddish Weeks Dresden

November 20-30 -- Munich -- The 24th Jewish Culture Days, Munich (devoted this year to Jewish Berlin)


April 2-4 -- Budapest -- Mini-Israeli-Film-Festival, Kino cinema club

August 5-8  -- Bank Lake -- Bankito Festival

August 26-Sept. 6 -- Budapest -- Jewish Summer Festival


 March 11 -- Barletta --  Festival Musica Judaica 2009-2010

April 17-21 -- Ferrara -- Festival of the Jewish Book in Italy

April 23-May 23; Sept. 26-Oct. 31 -- Casale Monferrato -- OyOyOy Festival

October 9-13 -- Rome -- International Festival of Jewish Literature

October 23-27 -- Rome -- Kolno'a Israeli Film Festival


April  18-25    -- Leeuwarden -- Yiddish Festival Leeuwarden (takes place every other year)

Oct. 28-31 -- Amsterdam -- International Jewish Music Festival


April 9-11 -- Warsaw -- Festival of New Jewish Music

April 20-25 -- Warsaw -- Jewish Motifs International Film Festival

May 23-28 -- Wroclaw -- 12th Simcha Jewish Culture Festival (note -- other events take place May 5-9, with the gala re-opening of the newly restored White Stork Synagogue)

May 15-23 -- Warsaw -- "Otwardatwarda" festival

May 23-26 -- Warsaw --  13th Jewish Book Fair

 June 13-19 -- Sejny -- Musicians' Raft

June -14-16 -- Bialystok -- Zahor Festival of Jewish Culture

June 19-20 -- Chmielnik -- The Eighth "Meetings with Jewish Culture" festival

June 22-26 -- Piotrkow Trybunalski -- Days of Judaism

June 26-July 4 --Krakow -- Festival of Jewish Culture --20th Edition!

 July 13-17 -- Kazimierz Dolny -- Klezmer Music Festival

July 23-25 -- Poznan -- 4th Tzadik Jewish Culture Festival

August 11 -- Lublin -- Shalom. Meetings with Jewish Culture

August 12-14 -- Rymanow -- Shabbat in Rymanow

August 28-Sept. 5 -- Warsaw -- Singer's Warsaw Jewish Culture Festival

October 4-6 -- Slupsk -- Meetings with Jewish Culture 


May 24-27 -- Timisoara -- Jewish Culture Days

May 26-29 -- Bucharest -- Czech Nine Gates Festival

June 19-22 -- Sighet -- Sighet Jewish Festival

September 2-5 -- Bucharest -- World of Yiddish Festival


March 29-April 4 -- Moscow -- Yiddish Fest


March 6-April 25 -- Geneva - Printemps Sefarade


Feb. 27-March 7 -- London -- Jewish Book Week

June 21-24 -- London -- Cantors Convention

August 8-13 -- London -- KlezFest


July 25 -- L'viv -- LvivKlezFest

October 3-10 -- Kharkov -- Days of Jewish Culture

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Poland -- old Jewish cemetery in Przemysl returned to Jewish ownership

An article in the Jerusalem Post on the return of a descrated, centuries-old Jewish cemetery to Jewish ownership. Nothing remains visible at the site except the broken frame of a gate.
The cemetery, located in the city of Przemysl, near Poland's border with the Ukraine, dates back to the 16th century and served local Jews, as well as those in nearby towns such as Jaroslav, Pruchnik, Kanczuga and Dynow, for hundreds of years.

But the Przemysl municipality, which took over the site following the end of World War II, resisted calls to return it.

At a meeting last week, however, Poland's government-backed Regulatory Commission, which resolves claims regarding Jewish communal property, instructed city officials to turn the cemetery over to Jewish control.

The decision marks a triumph for the Warsaw-based Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, and especially for its president, Monika Krawczyk, who led the effort in recent years to recover the graveyard.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hungary -- Update on Jewish Heritage Travel's Hungarian edition

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I've been informed that the Hungarian language edition of "National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel" will be launched at the Budapest International Book Festival in April. (I hope this is true, as the pub date has been postponed already a couple of times...)

For anyone in Budapest around that time, I am scheduled to give some sort of presentation at the Book Fair at 5 p.m. on April 23....The Hungarian edition is being published by the Hungarian branch of the parent publisher, National Geographic.

Each year the Budapest Book Fair honors one country, and this year it will be Israel, with special guest Amos Oz. He and I are to be among about 100 foreign authors from two dozen countries, as well as some 400 Hungarian authors who will be highlighted as part of readings, signings, talks, etc.

The Book Festival takes place in the Millenaris exhibition space.  It draws about 50.000 to 60.000 visitors annually and features tens of thousands of books.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Poland -- Women's lives and history in Bialystok Jewish Cemetery

 Tombstone of Esther, daughter of R. Alperik,  in the Bialystok cemetery. The epitaph (trans. by Heidi M.Szpek) reads: "Here lies a proper, God-fearing and upright woman, [in] secrecy she performed her many righteous deeds. Our beloved and precious mother, Esther daughter of R. Aperdik. She died Tuesday 11th Tishri 5669. May her soul be bound in the bond of everlasting life. [In Russian] Estera Wolkomirskaya.. She died 24 October 1908." Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Just in time for Purim (which falls this year on Feb. 28), the scholar Heidi M. Szpek has published another fascinating article in the online Jewish Magazine on the Jewish cemetery in Bialystok.  It focuses on the women named Esther whose tombstones are found there, and what we can learn about their lives from the epitaphs and carvings.
She was important, upright, modest, and extraordinary in the performance of good deeds. She was kindhearted, pleasant, precious, and God-fearing. She was a girl, a young woman, not yet a mother, a mother, and an elderly woman. She was a martyr, a Rabbi's wife, the descendant of a prominent rabbinic lineage, the crown of her children's head, and an Eshet Hayil – a "woman of valor". Such are the virtues and character of not one Esther but of the 38 women named Esther as remembered in the extant Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian and Polish inscriptions on the Jewish tombstones in the Bagnowka Jewish Cemetery in Bialystok, Poland.
Of the over 2000 extant inscriptions, nearly half remember women (including girls). Among these women, the name Esther is rivaled only by that of Chayya and Sarah. Each time I translate the inscription of an Esther I contemplate whether Bialystok's Esthers emulate their namesake, the biblical Esther, or the rich legends of Esther preserved in rabbinic literature. ( Read full article in the online Jewish Magazine. )
 Szpek is a Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Central Washington University (Ellensburg, Washington) who is currently writing a book on the Jewish epitaphs from Bialystok (I linked to another of her articles HERE). She has worked with Tomasz Wisniewski (who has posted photos and translations of the epitaphs on Bialystok Jewish tombstones on his web site

In her Esther article, Szpek illustrates how the imagery and inscriptions tell how women died in childbirth, or how young girls died before marriage. (For more on imagery on Jewish women's tombstones see my (Candle)sticks on Stone project.) But she also notes that women in 19th and early 20th century Bialystok fulfilled roles that went far beyond the home life of wife, mother, sister and daughter:
 Women were also nurses, social workers, administrators for Linas Hatzedek, which gave aid to the poor and sick, and for the Bialystok Relief Society. Women were students and teachers; they served in the administration of the Bialystoker Youth Society, one organized and served as 'mother' of the Bialystoker Orphans. Women were youth athletes, founders of the Maccabi Sport Club, and actresses in the Habimah Players. Women were needleworkers at the "Ort" workshops in Bialystok, active Zionists in Poale Zion and embraced the socialist ideals of the Bundists. They sat on strike committees as early as 1901, and continued to march against unfair labor practices in the 1930s. Women managed their late husbands' estates, served as leaders in the Bund, even dying in the tragic Sabbath Nahamu in July 1905 when the Tsarist Army rose up against the protesting Jewish Bundist workers.
Read full article in the online Jewish Magazine

Purim is Judaism's most joyful holiday, and Esther, of course, is its heroine. The Jewish bride of the ancient Persian King Ahasuerus, she (with her uncle Mordechai) foiled the plans of Ahasuerus' wicked advisor Haman to to annihiate the Jewish people. The story is told in the biblical book of Esther. The  scroll -- the Megillah of Esther -- is often kept in a decorative contained and is read out in the synagogue, in full, on the holiday (giving rise to the Jewish expression "the whole megillah" meaning a long and detailed account, i.e. chapter and verse.)

Another Esther figures in Polish legend -- in the 14th century King Kazimierz the Great was believed to have a Jewish mistress named Esther (or Esterka). There is an Esterka street in Krakow's old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, and her name is associated with castles and other sites.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Europe -- New Project to Digitize Jewish Cultural Collections

Photos at Jewish Museum, Florence. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

Judaica Europea has just been launched -- it's a 3 million euro project aimed at providing internet access to items Jewish cultural interest in the collections of leading cultural institutions across the continent. It forms part of Europeana, a broader EC project to digitize Europe's cultural resources.
Judaica Europeana will work with European cultural institutions to identify content documenting the Jewish contribution to the cities of Europe.

It will digitize 10,500 photos, 1,500 postcards and 7,150 recordings as well as several million pages from books, newspapers, archives and press clippings. The digitized content will be available at
The target audiences are university teachers and students, schools, cultural heritage professionals, cultural tourists and the general public: "anyone interested in the history of European cities or Jewish culture."

The ambitious two-year project was announced this past week, with the launch of its web site. Partly funded by a 1.5 million euro  grant from the European Commission, it will initially involve ten institutions across Europe under the leadership of  the London-based European Association for Jewish Culture and the Judaica Collection of the Goethe University Library in Frankfurt.

Other partners include:
Alliance Israélite Universelle, Paris
Amitié, Centre for Research and Innovation, Bologna
British Library, London
Hungarian Jewish Archives, Budapest

Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw

The Jewish Museum of Greece, Athens

The Jewish Museum London
Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Rome

Judaica Europeana will begin by digitizing millions of pages and thousands of other items selected from the collections of its partner libraries, archives and museums. The next stage will be to aggregate other digital collections on Jews in European cities — wherever they may be.

"Jewish culture has been predominantly text-based; it will be a particular challenge for us to bring in as much audio-visual material as possible," said Lena Stanley-Clamp, the project’s manager and director of the European Association for Jewish Culture.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Web Site is Sort of Down

Just to let you know that my web site -- -- is experiencing some difficulties, and if you try to access it you may not succeed... I am trying to resolve the problem.