Ominous Backdrop For Krakow Fest

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When the 16th annual Krakow Jewish Culture Festival kicks off Saturday, the festivities will occur in the Polish city where there are more Jewish studies students at the university than Jews in the local community. Klezmer musicians, cooks, dancers, cantors, drummers, calligraphers and others will teach and perform to a largely Polish audience, peppered with local and diaspora Jews, scheduled to arrive from all over the globe to take part in the weeklong series of cultural events.
The final concert on July 8 is expected to draw more than 10,000 people to Szeroka Street, the main drag of Kazimierz, Krakow’s Jewish district, where revelers will be able to dance late into the night.

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Despite the political climate, Folwarczny said that the renaissance of Jewish culture is continuing.

Folwarczny was recently invited to Chmielnik to celebrate “Days of Jewish Culture,” a festival that celebrates Jewish history with traditional food, music, and learning. In 1939, Chmielnik, near Krakow, was more than 80 percent Jewish.

Folwarczny was impressed that, though former Jewish residents of the town had come in from Israel, the celebration was planned largely by the local Polish community, who felt it was important to remember the Jewish presence in the city.

“If you go to [the festival in] Krakow, it’s impressive, it’s something special — the best-known musicians from New York, prestigious guests from all over,” said Folwarczny. “Here you have something that nobody knows about, but this is the biggest cultural event in Chmielnik all year. It doesn’t matter who is minister of education. This is all local initiative, and he can’t influence this.”

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Source: the Jewish Week
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