The Covid-19 crisis has forced the cancellation of Europe’s most famous Jewish culture festival — the annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland, which was to have celebrated this summer its 30th edition. The Festival was to have taken place June 26-July 5. It will now be postponed until 2021.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the closure of most (if not yet all) Jewish museums in Europe, as well as other institutions, and it has imposed other restrictions. (See our growing list HERE).
“We have been forced to postpone it until a time that will be safe for all of us,” Krakow Festival Director Janusz Makuch said in an announcement posted on the festival’s website and social media. “We will inform you of all decisions as soon as the situation in Poland and around the world has stabilized enough to act responsibly.”
Despite being physically apart, we are still with you and we are asking you to be with us; let’s support one other in these difficult days, show mutual respect and kindness. Let’s meet in the only space available – in the space of the spirit. Yes… on the internet.
We aren’t stopping our work though. We will soon post information about the Festival’s presence in a new, updated formula on our Facebook fan page and on our website.
Thanks to our donors and to your dedication, the Festival will continue to exist and develop. Over the past thirty-two years, we’ve created a space of spiritual and intellectual presence that will be threatened by neither the COVID-19 virus nor by an even worse menace – the virus of hatred.
I hope that you emerge from the shadows stronger than ever before. I hope that all of us meet soon, face to face, and I persist in my unshakeable conviction that we are the ones who are capable of building our good, common, Polish – Jewish world.
Makuch was one of the two co-founders of the Festival, whose first edition took place in 1988, when Poland was still under Communist rule. Already described as a “Jewish Woodstock” in 1992, the festival first took place every two years, but since the early 1990s has been an annual event.
Each year it draws tens of thousands of fans — most of them non-Jewish Poles — to its 10-day roster of around 300 concerts, performances, workshops, exhibitions, lectures, debates, book launches, guided tours, and other events.
Almost all events take place in and around Krakow’s historic Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, with some of the concerts and other events hosted in the district’s seven surviving synagogues.
Its hours-long open-air final concert, “Shalom on Szeroka,” takes place on Szeroka, the main square of the Jewish quarter and is shown on national TV.
In the past decade the festival period has expanded to include events organized by and/or hosted at the Krakow JCC and the Galicia Jewish Museum.
It has also sparked a parallel festival — FestivALT — which describes itself as “an independent arts collective that produces an annual program of critically minded Jewish art and activism in Kraków, Poland.”
It was not immediately known if FestivALT events were also cancelled this summer.