The Overview of the 25th Edition of SIMCHA Festival
August 20, 2023

The Simcha Jewish Culture Festival took place from 29 July to 4 August 2023 in Wrocław. It was the 25th jubilee edition of this highly popular event, which was co-hosted by TSKŻ.

On the second day of the Festival, we presented an audio drama titled “Miłość szuka mieszkania” [Love is Looking for an Apartment] by Jerzy Jurandot. The drama was co-produced by TSKŻ and the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, in partnership with the Jewish Historical Institute, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Polish National Radio Theatre.

On the third day of the Festival, the White Stork Synagogue in Wrocław hosted a long-awaited book-literature meeting with a writer, Tamara Włodarczyk, dedicated to her new book “Wrocław’s Yiddishkeit. Interviews with Polish Jews” which is soon to be released by AD REM Publishing House. This literary item is a record of 18 interviews with Polish Jews connected to Wrocław, which the author conducted over the past 15 years. Some of her interlocutors include long-term TSKŻ activists such as, for e.g. Ignacy Einhorn and Michał Mostowicz-Gerszt. TSKŻ is also a project partner.

The highlight of the fourth day of the Simcha Festival was a guided tour called “Once Upon a Time at the Jewish Borek. A Walk along the Southern Quarters of Wrocław” which was led by Tamara Włodarczyk. The tourists had an opportunity to visit two very important Jewish institutions i.e. the pre-war Jewish Senior Citizens’ Home of the Julius and Anna Schottländer Foundation and the former Jewish Hospital, which is soon to be converted into… a luxury apartment house by a private investor.

On the same day in the evening, the Henryk Tomaszewski Theatre Museum in Wrocław hosted a screening of an unusual documentary film “The Seventh Class” by Mieczysława Kaut-Wazacz. The film recounted the stories of several Jewish friends, born during the war, who grew up in post-war Wrocław. They were linked together by the Wrocław TPD School. Most of them emigrated from Poland in 1957 and now live in Israel, the UK, France and Denmark. In 2007 i.e. fifty years after their departure from Poland, they organised a class reunion in their hometown. The film screening was followed by a discussion with a participant of this class reunion, i.e. a prominent Wroclaw painter Mira Zelechower-Aleksiun.

On the sixth day of the Festival, Tamara Włodarczyk delivered a multimedia lecture entitled:  “Svika Pick. The Wroclaw Roots of the Israeli King of Pop Culture” at the Wrocław Mikveh. Svika Pick was a singer, composer and TV celebrity, and, most of all, an icon of the Israeli pop culture. He only spent the first eight years of his life and then he moved to Israel. After some time, his songs started to be recognised as part of the Israeli cultural heritage. The audience had a great time listening to the songs of this famous Israeli artist, who often used to emphasise his Polish roots. During the meeting, the plan to commemorate Svika Pick in Wroclaw on a permanent basis was conceived, and the TSKZ˙ will certainly contribute to achieving this goal.

Apart from the events co-organised by us, a series of workshops took place within TSKŻ’s premises. These included cooking classes by a master chef, Alessia di Donato, a course on reading inscriptions on Jewish tombstones, organised by the ‘Shnirele Perele’ Study Group of the Department of Jewish Studies at Wrocław University and crocheting classes by Magda Brumirska-Zielińska.

It was not the first time when TSKŻ strongly emphasized its presence at this one of the most important and oldest Jewish cultural festivals in Poland.

All photos have been provided by courtesy of Tobiasz Papuczys/The Simcha Jewish Culture Festival