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KPBS Commentaries

New Life in Kazimierz

What a week! The 18th Jewish Culture Festival , the largest Jewish festival in the world, began the day we arrived in Krakow. Centered in Kazimierz , the ancient Jewish district on UNESCO's World Heritage List , this lively festival is attended by people from all over the world, and features theatre performaces, lectures, films, tours, concerts, classes, workshops, art installations, museum exhibits, and much much more. The music is extraordinary. We heard music spilling from synagogues, much as Dora must have done when she lived here in 1918. We heard many different styles of Klezmer music, as well as Hasidic, classical, and Jewish folk music. The culminating concert, Shalom on Szeroka Street , attended by thousands, started with rain showers in the evening and didn't end until two a.m. 

Byron and I took a week-long free, but intensive Yiddish class this week taught by wonderful Anna Gulinska at the Galicia Jewish Museum , and participated in a Yiddish singing workshops taught by Jeff Warschauer in the afternoons. We attended free Klezmer concerts held on tiny cobbled squares, surrounded by people from all over the world. 

One of our favorite groups we heard perform at the daily evening free "Concert between Two Synagogues." Konsonans Retro is a group of family members from the Ukraine.

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When Byron and I were here in 2001, Kazimierz was a bit depressing, with little life left in the narrow lanes. Only old photographs, like this one below, showed the Jewish life on the ancient streets.

Wiliam Diamant from Anna Maria, Florida, USA
July 08, 2008 at 04:57 PM
I'm not so sure you are going to find that needle in the haystaack. I think the needle is going to find you.

vernetta from san diego ca. usa
July 10, 2008 at 05:46 AM
Kathi and Byron: I am so enjoying your experiences. Krocow was my favorite city on our magical tour, I envey your time spent in that beautiful and magical city.,. Thank you for continuing to blog so we can share all your wonderful moments. The Festival must be a real treat.. Thanks for sharing. Take care, Miss you in dance class.. "Vernetta"