On 4-5 January 2020 the Cukunft Jewish Association organized the 3rd LOWER SILESIAN FESTIVAL OF JEWISH CULTURE in Walbrzych (Poland) as the second part of the 2019 EVZ-HIA Grant Competition Project entitled “Local Narratives of Diversity in Action – Against Urban Antisemitism and Social Exclusion”.
The event included numerous lectures and workshops on local Jewish history and culture, Stereotypes, Antisemitism and Holocaust from the perspective of local multicultural history, Israel, heritage and society. We aimed to involve leaders and members of local Jewish organization such as the Jewish community and Socio-Cultural Association of the Jews in cities of Walbrzych, Dzierzoniow, Legnica, Wroclaw and Zary as well as Polish local institutions – the Department of Culture of Walbrzych City Hall, Stara Kopalnia Museum end Educational Center (www.starakopalnia.pl) the Museum of Porcelain (https://muzeum.walbrzych.pl/4860-2/) . We also asked for a honour patronage of well-known institutions in Poland that share with our organization common values and might support the project also in future such as: Voivode of Lower Silesia, Marshal of Lower Silesia, President of Walbrzych, House of Europe Regional Representative of EU Commission, European Jewish Fund, ROI Community and Charles and Lynn Shusterman Foundation, Klamra Foundation, #CookJewishBeJewish, “Slowo Zydowskie – Jewish Word” Magazine and “Studia Bliskowschodnie” Magazine.
The idea behind this part of the project was to introduce local Polish Jews and their contemporary culture, traditions and heritage to their Polish neighbors. Our aim was to create an open, safe, friendly and inclusive space for their integration, exchange of opinions, family stories and even stereotypes. We wanted these people who participated in the event – Jews and Poles – just to talk while they paint together traditional plates for Jewish holidays, design their own Jewish ecological bags, make their own Havdalah candles for commemorating the end of Sabbath, sing along Chassidic songs – nigguns and other traditional Jewish and Polish songs, cook and eat Jewish food and drink different type of kosher wine or just experience various Jewish rituals for Sabbath and Havdalah. On
one hand we wanted to educate on local German-Polish-Jewish history and heritage in informal way, but on the other we also wanted to present the local continuity and contemporary Jewish-Polish-German coexistence “live, here and now” where is a place for new design, vegetarianism and veganism in Jewish cuisine, ecology and wellbeing. We wanted to show that 90% of Jews in the world are the same as Poles – they don’t wear religious cloths and aren’t so religious. They listen the same music, read the same books, like to eat the same food. Frankly speaking, we wanted to show the human face of the Jew, especially Polish Jew who lives locally at the corner, who in Polish stereotypes is dehumanized. We believe that thanks to all these activities we achieved our goals by reaching many people from different age groups who will pass this good impression regarding Jews they met to others.
This is all thanks to our festival that wouldn’t be possible without generous support of the EVZ-HIA 2019 Grant that covered cost of renting venues, refreshments, design, promotion materials printing, distribution of materials, internet website, transportation, materials and organization of workshops (painting materials, plates and paints and firing of Jewish plates, ecological bags, candles, ect.), salaries for lecturers, photograph, hotels, transportation, ect.
Our main promotional materials – leaflets, posters and banners were designed by Aleksandra Wilczura and our amazing HIA Team: Bethanie Martin (2018 Warsaw Fellowship), Dominika Burakiewicz (2018 Warsaw Fellowship) and Yiannis Stylianidis (2018 Warsaw Fellowship) based on traditional Jewish paper-cut presenting Walbrzych City of a well-known Polish-Jewish artist Joanna Matyjasek. The team used in their design Walbrzych’s local symbols such an oak tree (logo of Walbrzych City) and Walbrzyskie hills. The event was showed in local media – both press and TV. The poster and article on the Lower Silesian Festival of Jewish Culture was also published in “Slowo Żydowskie – Jewish Word” Magazine by Irena Kokusz-Malina. More photos are also available on Cukunft’s FB.
*This project is generously supported by the Foundation EVZ. It does not represent an expression of opinion by the Foundation EVZ. The authors bear the responsibility.
**Action Projects are independent initiatives of Humanity in Action Fellows and Senior Fellows that address social and human rights issues around the world.