During the Festival, everyone will find something for their own, even kids. Parents can organise time for their kids in a nice way by enrolling them to workshops. Children learn fastest through playing, which I experienced during yesterday’s workshop. Its theme was related to the Jewish house.
First, the children gathered by a table which was a mini-exhibition of the most important every day life objects without which a Jewish family could not do. Among them one could see a mezuzah, a menorah, a kippah, a Chanukah candle, a wine goblet and many others. Additionally, a short multimedia presentation allowed understanding the topic better. The children learned what does a real Jewish kosher kitchen look like, which dishes are neutral, meat or milk, what preparations does a mistress of the house do before the Sabbath and the Passover. Amidst children’s shouts, as a volunteer, I watched over the order of art works and the general atmosphere of the workshops. I did it with pleasure, especially that I have a pedagogical background. The kids’ task was to draw a Jewish house and place a blessing inside, most often on a wall or in a window. The exhibition of over thirty pictures was impressive and each of them was really original. The workshops finished with a common singing and dancing to the Israel music. The currently closed Popper’s synagogue is a vital cultural centre and during the year it often hosts similar workshops. When I was passing it a few days ago, I saw that in the temple’s garden a cycle of art workshops dedicated to Janusz Korczak took place. Both the children reading Kaytek the Wizard and the parents analysing his pedagogical methods introduced many positive aspects to their lives. These meetings in form of a happening allowed the participants to learn innovative art techniques such as cottage, frottage or dripping. I can say that children bring me happiness and cheer me up like a bar of chocolate. The endorphins level increased significantly and the bad luck which haunted me for the last two days finally disappeared. I considered attending an interesting lecture. This time Paweł Smoleński, dr Stanisław Krajewski, Konstanty Gebert and prof. Shlomo Avineri discussed in the Center for Jewish Culture about the Israel’s expectations of the diaspora and the diaspora’s of Israel. However, I did not stay for the discussion as I wanted to watch necessarily the workshop of Yemeni jewellery, especially that it took place in the beautiful surrounding of a barge moored at Bulwar Kurlandzki. Through the whole week of the “festival fever” an outstanding Israeli artist, Ben Zion Davis, is presenting precisely the process of manufacturing particular elements of the jewellery. On the barge, there is also a possibility to buy it. I must admit, however, that it is not one of the cheapest. Each madame who possesses it will attract jealous looks of other women. On my way to Tempel Synagogue for the concert of the Miller family I tried to look for a replica of such jewellery in our local India shop. Unfortunately it is not possible to find it. At least in Poland. Well, women’s nature is being naive... India is thus quite far from Yemen... So I contented myself with purchasing a nice tangle of turquoise beads in a promotional price which I will exchange one day for a Yemeni gem.
2.07.2012 - Day 3
Each volunteer is during the day on a 3-hour call duty. They are then to be most available within the Festival Office. There are three golden rules which apply to this responsibility: first of all a clear mind, next a turned on mobile phone, and last but not least 10 precious minutes that we have to appear in the appointed place and perform the task. A volunteer is called in the event of emergency situations which occur during the festival. And that was also my case – around 11 a.m. I was called out by Paweł Kowalewski, the supervisor of all volunteers, to perform a task. It was a “bike tour” aimed at collecting programmes for the evening concert of David Krakauer. Taking advantage of an hour-long break, I ate a fast lunch and afterwards I attended a workshop of Jewish Art. Its coordinator, Monika Krajewska, explained precisely what did the prohibition of depicting persons in Judaism look like through the ages. Unusual ways of bypassing the fundamental law of the 2nd commandment, which is the substantial base for the ban, could be observed on the examples of mosaics in the ancient synagogues of Asia Minor and few preserved wooden synagogues in Europe. The participants could personally carry out some symbolic artistic representations and thus stand at the verge of God’s law. And speaking of the verge -- I think that on Monday I found myself in a “breaking point”. Before the evening concert, I decided to return to my apartment to refresh a bit and once I opened the door I saw sea of water. For a moment I felt like the biblical Noah but withot the Arc. Flood is here a suitable word for describing the tragedy of the situation I was in. Its reason was, however, really trivial and hidden in the thirty-centimetre hose which connects the toilet with the water supply. As it usually happens -- strangers are usually the victims, since water is an element hard to stop and causing great damage, in this particular case – two floors down. The help of “flooded” neighbour with a kind heart also happens to be priceless. It was mainly due to him that I managed to regain control over the situation. First, I dried the floor where the belongings of five students were and then, fast like a bolt, I left for the “missing link”,namely the magic hose. This is how my prospects on 4-hour long rest turned immediately into a tireless struggle with the element which was under control 30 minutes before the preparations for the Bester Quartet & Tomasz Ziętek concert began. On my way to Kazimierz district I received a call from the Office. The task was to pick up the musicians from the railway station. It turned out, however, that it was not necessary so I could safely stay at my place and relax by the sounds of wonderful music. Everyone found the concert of the clarinet virtuoso and composer David Krakauer to be the main event of the evening. He is a unique person permanently connected with the Festival and celebrating the 20th anniversary of his presence here. He was accompanied by the magnificent Sinfonietta Cracovia conducted by Robert Kabara. As I stood by the main entrance for the artists I could watch them all more closely and controlling the lightning area I contributed much to the safety of the most important guests of the evening. And this is not irony. Music soothes manners and also helps dealing with stress which I could experience first-hand
1.07.2012 - Day 2
Life is unpredictable and fate plays funny tricks on people. Probably that’s why my Saturday night didn’t end on Melaveh Malkah ceremony but went on and on! At midnight sharp I was recruited to be a part of a top secret mission cryptonym „Yemen”. Not at all was it a trip to this exotic country but was more about chopping onions, boiling eggs and frying some meat. Preparing a traditional yemen soup, as this is what I’m trying to convey above, took chef and his two assistants about 2 hours. Results of those night culinary achievements were to be tasted and admired later on, on the barge moored at embarkment near Gazowa street. Im bound with state secret right now so unfortunately I can’t disclose all recipes that have been used - their taste and aroma are accursed in heart of Yemen. It’s cuisine is based on bread, meat soup and spices that are typicall for this part of the world – cardamom, cumin and fenugreek. Delicious!
On June 1st, I woke up in my quasi new apartment surrounded by boxes and luggage. I didn’t even think about unpacking because at 8:45AM I had to be ready and steady in the Jewish Culture Centre. Today I accompanied a group visiting Synagogues. On every street of Kazimierz there used to be at least one house of worship or a Synagogue. First have been adapted into private apartments, Synagogues on the other hand survived the war – 4 out of 7 still fullfill their function today. Sunday service was a must, however cool and serenity within church’s walls made me fall asleep. I was woken up by a strong sound of organ music heralding the end of the service. Quick reality check, iced coffee and cold shower were just what the doctor ordered for this blistering heat. Next events on Jewish Festival’s agenda didn’t slip my mind. Lecture on Jewish Antizizonism held by Stanislaw Krajewski attracted quite an audience. Many important issues have been risen, therefore debate was much fervent. Right after that I hurried for a book meeting with Joanna Olczak – Ronkier, author of memoirs about Janusz Korczak. Author, back when she was a little girl, known doctor in person. All volunteers were preparig themselves for the biggest event of the night, that is the Cantors’ Concert: Voice of Joy and Deliverance (Ps.118:15). It started at 7pm in Tempel Synagogue. Every volunteer had his own task to take care of. Mine was to let in guests, take care of ticket inspection, give out programmes of the concert and also little souvenirs. Attendance was amazing even though there was a Euro Final game going on at the same time. Everyone has different priorities, but still it never hurts to kill two birds with one stone. Through secret channels, informations about final’s progress were passed on from one to another. When Italy was loosing to Spain outstanding choristers soared to unspeakable levels of synagogue and hassid singing excellence. After the concert I went to one of Kazimierz’s football’s fan zones in order to admire Spain victory and at the same time weeping just a little after Italy crushing loss, my personal favourite team during Euro. I didn’t plan on being sad for the whole evening though, especially I was about to go to Alchemia, where at midnight a great German band, Dirty Honkers, were about to make an apperance. They sure did a great swing show,mixing it up with a modern popculture and contemporary beats and bassess that made everyone dance away. And with this optimistic accent, I ended a great and eventful day.
30.06.2012 - Day 1
My very first day of being a Jewish Culture Festival’ s volunteer comes to its end. I’m sitting in one of climatic cafes located in Kazimierz, Krakow’s Jewish Quarter. I entertain myself with observing groups of tourists so eagerly searching for reminiscences of truly Jewish dwellers of this neighborhood. I’m also trying to recap all today’s events, helping myself with icy cold coffee that pushes my braincells to work a little bit harder. Looking at Krakow today I can’t help but notice it’s resemblance to Tel Aviv. I’m pretty sure that today temerature in sunlight-bathed capital of Israel was pretty much the same as temperature in capital city of the Lesser Poland. After finals and eight exams I’m not even close to kicking back. I’m also not yet blessed with opportunity for a long night sleep and I don’t expect it to change soon. Fortunately, there are still 3 months of summer break ahead of me.
7 AM, time to wake up. First thing on the agenda – moving to a new apartment. I’m not even going to go into details, I assume that everyone knows just how much of a breakneck task it is. Next assignment was much more pleasant, and also related directly to the Festival. For about 3 hours I accompanied tour guide Anna Kiessel as she showed around the „Jewish Krakow” to 35 english tourists. Getting ready only took about 45 minutes. At 12 PM sharp I took my always reliable bike – has great aircondition by the way – to the Volunteer Centre. When I got there, next to a pretty numerous group of volunteers already waiting for me was also a microphone and a loudspeaker, irreplaceable utensils when it comes to guiding that many people in such a noisy city. Keeping in mind high temperature, my friend Maria and I took couple of gallons of water with us, systematically filling up supplies on the go. Tenement after tenement, starting from Tempel Synagogue and finishing at the Main Square, our tour came to an end. So many names and events, stories about people who lived right here, changing and influencing pre-war Krakow amazed our audience. I finally got back to the Volunteer Centre around 4 PM.
It’s not hard to presume what was next … operation “Moving out” continued. Much deserved breathing space came at 7 PM, accompanied with thoughts about two upcoming events that are taking place tonight. First one is a 2 hour Vistula cruise with Haferflocken Swingers, which pretty much means a night of swinging and time-traveling back to crazy 20’s. Second option is Melaveh Malkah, a joyous caremony of farawell to Sabbath starting in about two hours. I’m picking option No2 and now planning on having some dinner. Queen of Kazimierz, famous pizzabread stand, here I come!
Written by Katarzyna Odrzywołek