About Kazimierz Dolny in Poland, its architectural and landscape values have already been written many books, and Polish and Jewish poets have also argued for their uniqueness. The beauty of the town and its unusual artistic atmosphere were preserved by painters from different backgrounds, many of whom were artists of Jewish origin. The pre-war Kazimierz Dolny was recorded in Yiddish films that immediately went to distribution in America. The potential of Kazimierz Dolny’s cultural wealth, the beauty of this place and its genius loci make it an ideal location for the Pardes Festival – the Jewish Culture meetings.
The 5th PARDES Jewish Culture festival in Kazimierz Dolny (East of Poland) took 4 days full of lectures, workshops, presentations and concerts. Cukunft members had a privilege to lead two of them devoted to the Zodiac signs, Jewish astrology, synagogues’ polychromies and the Jewish papercuts.
Our lectures and presentations focused on the Jewish folklore devoted to concept of the Jewish time, months, mazalot, day of birth and death in the Jewish astrology. I explained how these beliefs were transformed into the folk art of wooden synagogues in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. Based on various images from synagogues in Chorodow, Pokroje, Chmielnik, Niebylec, Krakow and Warsaw as well as from ketubot, sukkot decorations and Jewish papercuts, we presented wandering Zodiac’s motives through centuries and cultures, how they corresponded to the Aniconism in Judaism and Iconoclasm in the history of Jews.
We also tried to find painters’ inspirations such as wells (Aquarius), local animals (Gemini, Scorpio, Cancer) or human images avoiding painting faces (Aquarius, Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius).
Cukunft’s lectures and presentations were accompanied by the Jewish papercut workshops during which participants prepared their own papercuts with Zodiac signs and Jewish symbols of mazalot.
After the academic part the citizens of Kazimierz Dolny were infited for wolks around former Jewish shtetl as well as participate in a concert of Klezmer Music sponsored by Socio-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (TSKZ).
During the festival we also had an occasion to participate in meetings with media (radio, press and TV) as well as be interviewed by three of them. Thanks to the organizers we had a great opportunity to experience in practice organizing and coordinating of the Jewish Culture Festival. This experience will be extremely useful in organizing our own Jewish culture festival in Walbrzych this October.