The 24th Simcha Jewish Culture Festival Starting on 30th July!
July 30, 2022

We would like to cordially welcome you to take part in the 24th Edition of Simcha Jewish Culture Festival. We are happy to announce that this year we are one of the Festival’s partners and co-organisers of some events. This year’s edition of Simcha Festival is going to start on 30th July and continue till 5th August. Traditionally, the event will be held at the White Stork Synagogue and other locations within the Four Denominations District. The Festival’s agenda will include many fascinating meetings with writers and artists and series of outstanding concerts which will be opened by Kommuna Lux, an Odessa-based Ukrainian band. Other highlights will include a traditional Jewish Fair, workshops, film shows, guided tours and great many other attractions for adults and kids.

The central theme of this year’s Simcha Jewish Culture Festival will be the history of Jewish inhabitants of the former Easter Borderlands of Poland i.e. today’s territories of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. On this occasion, the event’s hosts invited Kommuna Lux, a band from Odessa, Ukraine, with their unique style combining klezmer music with Odessa Gangsta Folk, to open the Festival. The band will perform in Wrocław for the first time even – so you simply cannot miss their concert! In the framework of the Festival’s agenda, on 2nd August Professor Leszek Ziątkowski will deliver his lecture “Ukraine – The Jewish Paradise and Hell  (16th – 20th centuries)”. Despite the ongoing war in Ukraine and generally hard times, the Festival’s hosts would like to stick to its central theme and – just like in the past years – promote the spirit of tolerance, solidarity and joy which stems from spending time together, building intercultural dialogue and expanding the knowledge of Jewish traditions and culture. After all, “simcha” means “joy” in Hebrew!

This year’s agenda is dominated by meetings with authors of books devoted to Jewish themes. On 2nd August at 5.00 pm, in the Auditorium of the Jewish Studies Department at the University of Wrocław,  Joanna Degler (Lisek) PhD, Hab., will moderate a meeting with Mira   Krum-Ledowska, the author of the book titled “Królewna z kukurydzy” (Published by Kol lsze Publikacje). In her book, the writer presents the reader with various images from her life, with a bit of distance, irony but also with some nostalgia and tenderness. The reader may follow her fight for survival during the war, her fate in the post-war cities of Jelenia Góra and Wrocław, a painful departure from Poland, kibbutz life and Israeli army service, as well as her teacher’s career and work in a Polish bookstore in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile on 4th August at 5.00 pm, 4.08 (Klubokawiarnia Mleczarnia) Ula Rybicka (Żydoteka) will talk to Rafał Hetman – a reporter and author of “Izbica, Izbica” (published by Wydawnictwo Czarne), a high-profile book describing the wartime history of a small town near Lublin. This book was once nominated to “Polityka Weekly’s Historical Award” and was among the finalists of Ryszard Kapuściński Prize. During Simcha Festival, we will also have a chance to talk about another award-winning literary masterpiece i.e. one of the most famous novels by David Grossman, an Israeli prose writer i.e. “A Horse Walks into a Bar” (published by Znak Literanova), for which the author was awarded the prestigious Booker Prize. The discussions on this novel will be moderated by Ula Rybicka as part of the Jewish Book Club held by Żydoteka. The meeting will take place on 3rd August at 5.00 pm at Klubokawiarnia Mleczarnia.

An important highlight of this year’s Festival will be open air events such as the Israeli Breakfast in the Ethnographic Museum Garden in Wrocław, evening Jewish dance workshops and a traditional Jewish Fair which will take place on Sunday at the yard of the White Stork Synagogue. The Festival will start with the Israeli Breakfast (Saturday, 30th July, 10.00 am-2.00 pm) which will take place in the beautiful Ethnographic Museum Garden in Wrocław, and the traditional Israeli treats will be served by Wege Roots catering company. The picnic will be accompanied by many attractive side events such as “A MESS OR THE JEWISH MISCELLANY” a presentation of short literary and art pieces moderated by Tomasz Kwietko-Bębnowski, representing the Wrocław Branch of the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, Jewish dance workshops led by Dorota Kapusta, Hebrew calligraphy workshops for children led by Sylwia Lubiejewska (zapisy@proarte.org.pl, free admission) or art workshops for adults – a painted symbol – led by Marzena Domitrz-Fortun (zapisy@proarte.org.pl, free entry).

The Jewish Fair, Guided Tours, Films and Workshops

It is definitely worth taking part in an all-day traditional Jewish Fair which will be held on Sunday, 31st August from 10:00 am till 8:00 pm on the yard of the White Stork Synagogue. It will be an opportunity to meet exhibitors and restaurateurs offering kosher food, organic products, handicrafts, art, toys, clothing, souvenirs and even natural cosmetics from the Dead Sea. The Fair will be accompanied by some side events such as intercultural and religious family workshops which will be led by Eliza Gaust and Dawid Gurfinkiel representing HaKoach, Łódź (zapisy@proarte.org.pl, free admission). Another attractive family event will be Yiddish vocal workshops led by Sylwia Lubiejewska representing Tikkun Olam School (free admission, no registration). On Sunday at 4.00 pm, our first guided tour “A Jewish Travel Stop – Wrocław” is going to start. To register, please send an e-mail to (zapisy@proarte.org.pl). The tour will be guided by Anna Kałużna PhD, Judaic Studies at the University of Wrocław. Strolling together along the streets of Wrocław, we will have  a chance to listen to a story on the Jewish Theological Seminar which used to attract students from all over Europe, and venues inhabited by famous scientists, artists, art collectors, businessmen and philanthropists of the Jewish origin, and finally about the local Jewish reality after the Second World War. Another guided tour will be a literary and historical trip devoted to “Julius Schottländer and Jewish Art Collectors” to be organised in the south of Wrocław on Wednesday 3rd August at 6:00 pm. The tour will be guided by Tamara Włodarczyk, and Tomasz Kwietko-Bębnowski /TSKŻ Wrocław Branch/ will read some literary pieces (zapisy@proarte.org.pl, free admission). A highly popular option is a guided tour around the Four Denominations District. The tour will be guided by Adam Jezierski PhD, Hab. representing the University of Wrocław (5th August, 4:00 pm. Free admission, no registration required). Meanwhile, anyone who would like to see the interior and learn about the history of the White Stork Synagogue, should join a tour guided by Jerzy Kichler representing the Jewish Community in Wrocław, which will start at 3:30 pm on 1st August (zapisy@proarte.org.pl, free admission). Another equally fascinating destination is the Old Jewish Cemetery at Ślężna 37/39. The tour to the Cemetery (4th August, 4:00 pm) will be guided by Aneta Ziółkowska, the Wrocław City Museum. To register please send an e-mail to: (zapisy@proarte.org.pl, free admission).

A new Festival event to be organised this year will be an audio drama! “The Jewish Radio Kaleidoscope” which will be presented on Sunday, 31st July at 5:30 pm, at Klubokawiarnia Mleczarnia is supposed to bring back the memories of artistic life in the interwar period. It will be an attempt to revive the world which is now long gone, but may be brought back to life in our imagination thanks to the magic of the radio. The audio drama in the form of a fictitious radio broadcast will allow the audience to meet such figures as Adi Rosner, Adam Aston, Michał Waszyński, Tamara Lempicka and Janusz Korczak. The radio play will be accompanied by the sounds of outstanding contemporary pieces of music. “The Jewish Radio Kaleidoscope” has been recorded by Radio Gdańsk as part of the Lost Culture Festival held by the World War II Museum. The audio drama will be combined with an interview with Artur Hofman, its director, which will be conducted by Tamara Włodarczyk (TSKŻ, Wrocław Branch). On the next day (i.e. Monday, 1st August, 5:30 pm), the audience will have an opportunity to listen to Tamara Włodarczyk once again. She will present her unique multimedia lecture “Jewish Artists in the Polish Film Art of the Interwar Period”. The central theme of the presentation will be the greatest musical hits of the pre-war cinema composed by Jewish artists such as Henryk Wars, Marian Hemar, Alfred Schütz or Konrad Tom. We will listen to original pre-war recordings by Adam Aston, Henryk Gold Orchestra, to name just a few. Moreover, the presentation will be also devoted to the most outstanding film productions from the golden age of the Yiddish cinema, which used to be an important part of the Polish filmmaking art of the period.

Just like in the past years, during this year’s Simcha Festival an interesting exhibition will be presented. An exhibition entitled “SCHMITZLER’S PEOPLE. THE INHABITANTS OF PRE-WAR ŚNIATYN” is going to be opened on Sunday, 31st July at 7:00 pm on the matroneum of the White Stork Synagogue. The opening of the exhibition will be marked by a lecture delivered by Anatol Kaszen. The exhibition is devoted to identity in the cultural borderland and relations between residents of different nationalities, using the history of Sniatyn, a small town in Eastern Galicia, as an example and has been prepared by Galicia Jewish Museum in Cracow in cooperation with the History Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Centre for Urban History of Central and Eastern Europe in Lviv.

Traditionally, Simcha Festival will be accompanied by language workshops. This year’s workshops will be devoted to Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino – the classes are free, and no registration is needed.

Concerts: Kommuna Lux, Ukraine and Top Polish Artists Performing Jewish Music

The series of concerts will start on Saturday, 30th July, with a traditional and energetic Havdalah Concert performed by Kommuna Lux, Ukraine. The band, during its first ever performance in Wrocław, will present us gangsta folk straight from Odessa. Prior to the musician’s entry on stage, the audience will have an opportunity to take part in a traditional Jewish Havdalah ceremony i.e. separation of festive time from ordinary time at the close of the Sabbath. On the following days, a number of outstanding Polish artists performing Jewish music will also appear on stage at the White Stork Synagogue. We will listen to a Simcha Rotarian Concert by the Warsaw Sentimental Orchestra, Yaron Trio, with is preview show of Carmina Judaica, Kinder Yorn a unique band which will present us its musical story of a Jewish small town, and the most beautiful Jewish songs by Magda Brudzińska. The series of concerts will be closed by the only synagogue choir in Poland i.e. The White Stork Synagogue Choir conducted by Stanisław Rybarczyk and an outstanding musician, Piotr Baron, who will perform their “Jazz Inspiration”. For more details on our concert series, please see www.simcha.art.pl

Concert tickets are available online via www.ticketmaster.pl, as well as at Media Markt stores all over Poland, and at Tourist and Bike Information Centre (Św. Antoniego 8). Additionally, the tickets will also be on sale directly at the White Stork Synagogue, 2 hours before each concert.

Just like in the past years, we will watch some films as well! The Simcha Cinema will open on a daily basis at 8:30 pm at Klubokawiarnia Mleczarnia. The film shows will be co-organised by David’s Camera Foundation/Warsaw Jewish Film Festival and the Israeli Embassy in Poland, and the entry will be free of charge. Each film will be preceded by an intro by Agata Janikowska, Culture Scientist from the University of Wrocław. For the cinema repertoire, please see: www.sicha.art.pl.

The Festival will close with an open Sabbath welcoming ceremony (i.e. Kalabat Sabbath) at the White Stork Synagogue (5th August, 7:30 pm). This year’ ceremony will be led by Jerzy Kichler (member of the Jewish Community of Wrocław) and Marek Marosanyi, a cantor.

 Side Events

This year’s Simcha Jewish Culture Festival will be accompanied by a number of attractive side events.

One of such side events is Move On Together Israeli Way, an event launched in Wrocław by Patrycja Zasławska and including a series of workshops devoted to Israeli body movement techniques which revolutionise the contemporary approach to dance, human body and our surroundings. All such techniques have been inspired by the Jewish philosophy which is based on the celebration of our lives and creation of bonds with the world that surrounds us. The presented techniques will include: Gaga, Ilan Lev Method, Movement, Feldenkrais Method, Israeli Folklore and Research. The classes will be held at “Studio na Grobli” from 3rd to 7th August and passes are required. The project is co-organised by Nevatim – The Jewish Agency for Israel in Germany and its partner institutions: Hillel Polska, Simcha Jewish Culture Festival and Jerzy Grotowski Institute. For more details and prices, please see: https://www.facebook.com/events/774613233695911

Another side event of the Simcha Festival is addressed to children.

CHEDER Wrocław is a half-day camp for children held by Tikkun Olam Non-Public Private Primary School from 26th -31st July. Cheder (i.e. חדר –“a room” in Hebrew) stands for a Jewish religious elementary school. The hosts decided to combine tradition with modernity and invite children aged 8 to 12 to participate in a four-day project – a Jewish school. However, these will not be traditional school classes! In a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, children will unleash their creativity during art, cooking, music and even theatre lessons. Thanks to the presence of English interpreters, the offer is not only aimed at Polish-speaking participants! The aim of the Wrocław Cheder is to familiarise children with the rich Jewish culture, which is inextricably linked to the history of both Wrocław and Poland. The classes will be taught by Tikkun Olam educators such as: Sylwia Lubiejewska, Marzena Domitrz-Fortuna, Justyna Figurska, and Ada Zjawin – a voluntary worker and an English interpreter, and Lena Wentland-Zjawin – Tikkun Olam manager and educator.

For more detailed information and prices, please see: https://www.facebook.com/events/740003670663003?ref=newsfeed

A detailed agenda of the 24th Simcha Jewish Culture Festival can be found at: www.simcha.art.pl. The admission is free of charge in the case of most events (except for concerts).

The Host of the Festival is Pro Arte 2002.

The project has been co-funded by the following institutions: The Municipality of Wrocław, Ministry of Interior and Administration, The Marshal’s Office of the Lower Silesian Province, The Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, The Israeli Embassy in Poland, PZU Foundation and The Social & Cultural Association of Jews in Poland.