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32nd Jewish Culture Festival in Kazimierz – Jewish quarter of Krakow The Air | Ruah

The previous editions of the JCF were dedicated to three other elements: the earth, fire and water. This year’s edition, dedicated to air, completed this cycle of elements. The reference point was the Hebrew word, RUAH, which literally means air, but it has also other meanings which inspired this year’s program of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. This is what Janusz Makuch, the JCF founder and Director writes about them:

Ruah appears in the Tanakh almost 400 times. Its three core meanings comprise:

  1. Spirit (Holy Spirit) – Ruah Elohim (Judg. 6:34; 1 Sam. 16:14; 1 Kgs. 18:12)
  2. Breath, the breath of life (Ezek. 37: 5, Job 12:10)
  3. Wind (Exod. 10:13 Num. 11:31)

Looking for this “common element”, which contains all these three basic meanings of the word RUAH, and which, as a Jewish “sign” is legible for (almost) everyone, we find an instrument whose sound – because of the awareness of the breath – expresses the presence of the Ruah Elohim, Divine Presence, and owing to the air, it reaches and penetrates the most remote corners of the human spirit and their world. This word/image/instrument is shofar.


The 32nd edition of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow was held exactly 35 years after the first edition of the JCF in 1988.

Since 2019, the heart of the Festival has been beating in the JCF Tent, which is, in fact, a roofed square at the crossing of Józefa and Wąska streets. This is where the majority of the JCF events are held: to begin with lectures, meetings and workshops to end with music events, radio broadcasts etc. This is also where Cheder 2.0, i.e. the Festival club, operates.

The other place strongly associated with the JCF is the Tempel synagogue – which for the time of the Festival, changes into a concert hall. Unfortunately, this year, on account of the bad technical condition of the synagogue, we were unable to invite our audience inside, so the Festival concerts took place in the Museum of Engineering and Technology, located in Kazimierz.

A new JCF place was also Wysoka synagogue [the High Synagogue], where we organized the Festival movie theater, whilst the synagogue’s top floor housed the workshops and performances. We also continued our traditional presence in Hevre, Alchemia, in the apartment of the Bosak Family, and, during the walks and guided tours – in many corners of Kazimierz, Podgórze and the Old City.

After three years of absence, caused by the pandemic, we have returned to the Szeroka street with the iconic concert, Shalom at Szeroka.

For this concert especially, we invited the leading Israeli musicians: Liraz, performing with the female artists from Iran; the Boom Pam band celebrating their 20th anniversary, and also Neta Elkayam, Kutiman and Shai Tsabari. Apart from their performances, the audience could also listen to the artists who previously performed at the Museum of Engineering and Technology: Piyut Ensemble, Michael Winograd & The Honorable Mentshn with Josh Dolgin and the Klezmer Orchestra of the Sejny Theatre with Frank London and Lorin Sklamberg. This six-hours’ long concert traditionally ended with the All Stars Festival Orchestra performance. The concert was hosted by Alicja Popiel from TVP Kraków, Janusz Makuch and Ula Nowak, who made her debut as a presenter on the Shalom stage.

During the JCF, the Bester Quartet celebrated their 25th anniversary  – this is the first of the Polish bands invited by John Zorn to his record company, Tzadik. Especially for the 32nd JCF, the Krakowian band, MLDVA (created for the 25th JCF) prepared, together with Petra Nachtmanova, a special project – this was a concert celebrating the 45th anniversary of releasing “Grazia”,  one of the most important records in the history of the contemporary Israeli music, authored by the teenage Grazia Peretz.

The music events include also DJ-parties, which, this year, were held both in the JCF Tent (Orion Orient, Daniel Drumz, or Eta Hox), and at the Alchemia (SJ Socalled), which hosted also the traditional night jam sessions, as well as the Frank London’s concert and live act by Tony Kaye, the director of the American History X. The JCF Tent was also the stage for the Krakowian duo, Chvost and a musical live program featured for the Radio Kraków.

The recordings of the concerts are available on the website:, and the clips of the concerts can also be viewed at the  JCF channel on the YouTube. Shalom at Szeroka Street concert, recorded by the Polish Television can be watched in two parts on  TVP’s VOD platform

Although music, by all means, is the most visible part of the Jewish Culture Festival, having  become its quality mark, the JCF educational part is no less significant, as it allows us to pursue our statutory goals.

The educational part of this year’s edition focused on two main themes:

Ruah – the air, which was the leading subject of the 32nd JCF and
the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel

The lecture section was opened with the lecture about air presented by Janusz Makuch. This topic, continued in the two lectures delivered by rabbi Boaz Pash, was also present at the workshops of Beata Miligan and Agnieszka Kolanowska, Monika Krajewska as well as Marlena Seroussi. Ruah was also the leading theme of the walk prepared by Janusz Makuch.

The anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel was discussed in the lectures delivered by the Ambassador of Israel, doctor Yacov Livne, Matti Friedman and Yossi Klein Halevi. The history and achievements of this young state were introduced to the audience with a series of films made by Yair Qedar, titled:  “The Hebrews”, presenting the most significant persons in Israeli society, culture and politics. The film screenings were opened with a meeting with the director, who also showed his other film – “Gay Days”, presented at the EQ House – a center for LGBTQ+ persons, run by the “Znaki Równości” [Signs of Equality] Federation.

The discussion about Israel was the theme of a meeting with a journalist, Jacek Tacik, whilst the occasion for this conversation was his book, presented within the Literary Program of the JCF. The program featured also the meetings with Ishbel Szatrawska, Patrycja Dołowy and Zuzanna Hertzberg.

Yair Qedar, Tadeusz Marek, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Zuzanna Hertzberg, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Patrycja Dołowy, Paulina Małochleb, photo: Edyta Dufaj
dr Yacov Livne, Israeli Ambassador in Poland, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Rabbi Boaz Pash, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Rabbi Boaz Pash, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Edwin Seroussi, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Yosi Klein Halevi, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Ishbel Szatrawska, Aga Kozak, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Janusz Makuch, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Matti Friedman, photo: Edyta Dufaj

Another traditional element of the festival is the Workshops for Seniors, whilst the workshop list of the 32nd JCF was completed also with the Klezmer workshops with Frank London and Michael Winograd, piyut workshops with Yair Harel and the members of the  Piyut Ensemble, two presentations / music workshops with z Edwin Seroussi, a series of the culinary workshops with Bartek Kieżun and the dance and movement workshops conducted by Natalia Iwaniec, with the gaga method, worked out by an Israeli dancer, Ochad Naharin. The workshops enjoyed such a great popularity that we had to organize additional meetings.

The festival program featured also guided tours: the historical, social and cultural context for the 32nd JCF was presented during diverse walks guided by Anna Kiesell, Róża Klijanowicz, Agi Legutko, Paulina Żelazko and – in Ukrainian – Irena Michałowicz.

A separate set of events was made up by the artistic project, Lehavdil. This was already our third collaboration with the Berlin-based collective of the CCPA curators. After the Kumzits project in 2021, dedicated to fire and the reinterpretation of the Krakovian legends with Maiseh in 2022, this year’s Festival featured the Lehavdil project. It was inspired by the symbolism of the Havdala ceremony, which separates the holy time of the Shabbat from an ordinary day. The installations, performances and workshops within this project were presented by  Wojtek Blecharz, Shelley Etkin and Florence To. The curators, Lianne Mol and Yael Sherill, during the meetings which they held, spoke both about the ceremony and its interpretations presented by the three invited artists.

Lehavdil, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Wojtek Blecharz, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Wojtek Blecharz: Passage. In Harmony. For Angelic Organ, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Shelley Etkin, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Shelley Etkin: Besamim: Herbal Encounters - workshop, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Shelley Etkin: Besamim: Herbal Encounters - installation, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Florence To, photo: Edyta Dufaj
Florence To: Inter.Enlace.Echo, photo: Edyta Dufaj

During the 32nd Jewish Culture Festival, Zachor, a ceremony commemorating the Krakow’s Jews was held. Also the Festival featured the presentation of the KazLab project, an exhibition, “Listen to the Wind Blow” in the Shefter Gallery and “Powroty” [Returns] in Cricoteca. Janusz Makuch and Ula Nowak also recorded a program for the Radio Kraków speaking of shofar – its origin, function and music. The Shabbat brunch, served by Cheder in the JCF Tent gave an opportunity to get something to eat before the Shalom at Szeroka concert.

Each year, the organization of the JCF is assisted by a large group of volunteers – The Machers. For a few years also we have been developing an international volunteering program and volunteerism of seniors, yet thanks to the European Union grant which we have been receiving for the last three years, through the European Solidarity Corps we have been able to organize a six weeks long program addressed to young people from the whole world.

This year, apart from helping us with the preparation and conducting the 32nd JCF, the volunteers took also part in special trainings, lectures and tours, and, moreover, for the first time in JCF, they prepared an artistic project, with its final held on the last day of the 32nd JCF. Maggots: On Air was an open-air show, performance on the streets of Kazimierz, created under the supervision of experienced artists from Germany and Spain, but the script was written by the JCF volunteers, who also directed the show.

It was also for the first time in the JCF history that two foreign volunteers: Jules from France and Tal from Israel, worked for us as trainees for six months. For us this is brand new chapter in our cooperation with volunteers.

Jules coordinated the artistic projects Maggots, was responsible for crating content for The Macher’s social media . Tal was mainly producing video contact to the social media as well as prepared various video clips promoting and wrapping up the festival. On their blog you can read more and see the results of their work.

We are glad that thanks to the joint work, kindness, and the involvement and support of so many people and institutions, we managed to organized another successful festival. Thank you!

115 events of the 32nd JCF, including:
18 musical events
     (concerts, DJ parties, jam sessions)
14 lectures and meetings, incl. Literary Program
21 workshops, incl. Workshops for Seniors
14 guided tours and walks
17 events as a part of Lehavdil project
15 film screenings
 16 other events

65 accompanying events

133 artists, lecturers and instructors
from 12 countries
: Poland, Israel, Ukraine, USA, Germany,
Iran, Latvia, Great Britain, Turkey, Czech, Canada, Spain

62 volunteers from 20 countries:
Poland, Israel, Azerbaijan, France, Spain, USA, Italy,
Germany, Portugal, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Turkey, Great Britain, Ukraine,
including 5 Senior volunteers

26 292 participants of the events
19 742
live participants on-line

58 206 users of the website (+5 079)
245 366 views of the website (+19 488)

24 504 – followers on Facebook (+923)
4 479 – followers on Instagram (+736)
14 785 – subscribers on YouTube (+ 756)

210 399 average reach of FB posts
43 850 activities with posts on FB
36 126 reach of posts on IG

319 information in Polish media, including:
173 – in and 146 – outside of social media
366 516 reach in social media
573 859  reach outside social media

311 220 PLN | 70 730 EUR Advertising Value Equivalent (+ 181 058 PLN)
174 User Generated Content (UGC: +34)

Total reach of all posts related to the 32nd JCF in festival’s social media: 719 312 persons!

Above statistics concern period between June 1st and July 4th, 2023,
sources: Google Analytics for festival’s websites, statistics from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube
as well as from Brand24 portal

Full list of our sponsors, donors and partners you can find under this link


President of the Society and Director of the Festival
Janusz Makuch

Maria Bobrowska, Klaudia Czaja, Patrycja Marszałek, Elżbieta Woch-Stopa

Coordinators of volunteers
Michał Dziewit, Maria Kistowska, Mati Kordas, Monika Krawczyk,
Grzegorz Mikunda, Filip Szela, Aleksandra Trakul

Live streaming of the festival events
Eventstream: Wojciech Sadowski, Grzegorz Staszek, Artur Staszek

Visual identification:
Studio Otwarte & Weird Gentlemen (Łukasz Podolak)

Festival office
Edyta Gawlak, Robert Gądek, Ula Nowak, Michalina Pieczonka, Katarzyna Wydra

Volunteers – interns
Jules Cossenet, Tal Dahari, Justyna Mitianiec

Technical organization of the festival
Agencja Artystyczna Duo Marek Suszkiewicz
ZTE Grupa Fryc

Edyta Dufaj, Michał Ramus

Design of the Festival Tent
Marta Staszków



Partner of the festival concerts: LOT Polish Airlines

  1. Michael Winograd & The Honorable Mentshn feat. Josh Dolgin: Michael Winograd (clarinet), Brian Drye (trombone), Will Holshouser (accordion), Shoko Nagai (piano), Zoe Guigueno (double bass), David Licht (drums), Josh Dolgin (vocal). Concert dedicated to Tad Taube, organized in partnership with Taube Family Foundation / Polish premiere
  2. Songs of Love and Devotion – Piyut Ensemble: Yosef Abehsira, Eliyahou Edrei, Yehuda Edrei, Hertzel Amouyal, Shlomi Ben-Lulu, Raphaël Bensoussan, Yair Harel, Netanel Zaguri, Avraham Cohen, Simon Cohen, Neriyah Moyal, Halleluya Abehsira (vocal and clapping), Niro Abeksis (oud, gimbri, vocal), Eliyahu Dagmi (electric guitar), Hanani Zait (ney), David Dagmi, Ariel Smith, Yael Offenbach (percussions) / Polish premiere
  3. Raft of Musicians: New York / Sejny / Kraków: Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg, Klezmer Orchestra of the Sejny Theatre: Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg and the Klezmer Orchestra of the Sejny Theatre: Dominika Korzeniecka (drums), Borys Pol (drums), Hubert Okulanis (alt saxhorn), Mateusz Sznejkowski (trombone), Milena Moniuszko (vibraphone, tsimbl), Dominik Sekura (trumpet), Kacper Szroeder (trumpet), Marcin Dąbrowski (trumpet), Michał Popiel (trumpet), Paweł Jaczewski (alt saxophone, clarinet), Gabriel Dzienisiewicz (tenor saxhorn), Jan Głembocki (alt saxophone, bas clarinet), Mikołaj Pol (vibraphone, tsimbl), Michał Moniuszko (double bass), Wojciech Szroeder (accordion). Concert dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jan Kulczyk, organized in partnership with the Kulczyk Foundation
  4. Shalom at Szeroka Liraz Ensemble & The Iranians, Boom Pam, Kutiman, Neta Elkayam i Shai Tsabari (especially for JCF, Polish premiere); Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg i Klezmer Orchestra of the Sejny Theatre, Michael Winograd and The Honorable Mentshn, Josh Dolgin, Piyut Ensemble. Partner of the concert: PZU Foundation
  5. Bester Quartet – 25th anniversary concert: Jarosław Bester (accordion), Dawid Lubowicz (violin, mandolina), Maciej Adamczak (double bass), Ryszard Pałka (drums, vibraphone)
  6. Grazia – MLDVA feat. Petra Nachtmanowa: Petra Nachtmanova (vocal), Çınar Timur (guitar), Wojciech Długosz (keyboards), Antonis Skolias (drums), Tomasz Jurecki (bas), Grzegorz Dąbek (dub, fx) / especially for JCF / Polish premiere
  7. Yiddish Classics on Vinyl 1 & Vol. 2 – DJ-set: Josh Dolgin aka DJ Socalled / Polish premiere
  8. Live act – Tony Kaye (guitar), in cooperation with Value Culture / Polish premiere & debute
  9. Live act – Chvost i Çınar Timur: Paulina Bisztyga (vocal), Paweł Pruski (electronics), Çınar Timur (baglama, lafta) / Polish premiere
  10. Orion Orient – DJ-party: Krzysztof Podolski, Szymon Tuszewski
  11. Jam Session @ Alchemia – Host: Dj Socalled – Josh Dolgin / Polish premiere
  12. Daniel Drumz – DJ set: Daniel Szlajnda
  13. Electro-Acoustic Klezmer Explorations: Frank London (trumpet), David Licht (drums), Shoko Nagai (piano), Will Holshauser (accordion), Zoe Guigueno (double bass) / especially for JCF / Polish premiere
  14. Jam session @ Alchemia – Host: Frank London / Polish premiere
  15. Shalom Before arty: Eta Hox – Aneta Chudzik
  16. Shalom Afterparty: Night Jam Session
  17. Zachor – concert by Jarmuła i Przyjaciele and Joyful Voice Choir


  1. Gaga / People – dance and movement workshops –  Natalia Iwaniec / 6 meetings
  2. Mahane Yehuda – Jewish Cuisine of Levant Countries and of the Eastern Part of the Mediterraneanculinary workshops – Bartek Kieżun / especially for JCF
  3. Ha-Carmel Market – Jewish Cuisine of Levant Countries and of the Eastern Part of the Mediterraneanculinary workshops – Bartek Kieżun / especially for JCF
  4. Levinsky Market – Jewish Cuisine of Levant Countries and of the Eastern Part of the Mediterraneanculinary workshops – Bartek Kieżun / especially for JCF
  5. Souk Al-Lakhamim – Jewish Cuisine of Levant Countries and of the Eastern Part of the Mediterraneanculinary workshops – Bartek Kieżun / especially for JCF
  6. Klezmer and Beyondklezmer music workshops – Frank London and Michael Winograd / 2 meetings / especially for JCF
  7. Singing Ruah / The Spirit of G-d Torah studying workshops with Marlena Seroussi / 2 meetings
  8. The Breath of Lifepresentation and workshop with Monika Krajewska / 2 meetings/ especially for JCF
  9. Color – Rhythm – Image. Painting with the Breathworkshops with Beata Miligan, Agnieszka Kolanowska / especially for JCF
  10. Jewish Songs From, About and for Ukraine – singing workshop with Sasha Lurje / especially for JCF


  1. Gaga / Peopledance and movement workshops – Natalia Iwaniec
  2. Color – Rhythm – Image. Painting with the Breathworkshops with Beata Miligan, Agnieszka Kolanowska / especially for JCF
  3. Tradition of the Jewish Sacred SongsYair Harel, Piyut Ensemble / especially for JCF


All lectures and meetings were commissioned by the JCF.

  1. Ruah, shofar- Our Consciousness: 35 Years the JCF in Krakow – Janusz Makuch
  2. Winds of History. 1948: Israel’s First Spies And the Double Identity of The Jewish State – Matti Friedman
  3. The War For Democratic Israel – Yossi Klein-Halevi
  4. How Zionism Saved the Jewish in 1945 – Yossi Klein-Halevi
  5. Israel and Poland: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – dr. Yacov Livne, Israeli Ambassador in Poland
  6. Struktura czasoprzestrzeni: równoważyć, czy załamywać?Rabbi Boaz Pash
  7. Between Air And LightRabbi Boaz Pash
  8. The Spiritual Poetry of Rabbi Israel NajaraEdwin Serroussi / 2 meetings
  9. The Hebrews: How To Tell the History of Hebrew Literature in 19 Ways? – meeting with Yair Qedar, film director of the series The Hebrews, moderation: Tadeusz Marek
  10. Value Culture – discussion and presentation by Adam Swig and Kosha Dillz


  1. Can a Sense of Humour Redeem Drama? – authors meeting with Ishbel Szatrawska, moderation: Agnieszka Kozak / especially for JCF
  2. How Not To Like a Jew. A Talk About Difficult Polish-Jewish Relations – authors meeting with Jacek Tacik, moderation: Michał Olszewski / especially for JCF
  3. A Matter of Character. Women Fighters From the Warsaw Ghetto. – meeting with Zuzanna Hertzberg and Patrycja Dołowy, moderation: Paulina Małochleb / especially for JCF


  1. Synagogues of Kazimierz – Ania Kiesell, Róża Klijanowicz, Agi Legutko / total 4 tours in Polish and English
  2. Jewish Kraków – Ania Kiesell – total 3 tours in Polish and English
  3. Jewish Life in Kazimierz and in Podgórze – Róża Klijanowicz, Agi Legutko / total 2 tours in Polish and English
  4. Women of Kazimierz – Paulina Żelazko / total 2 tours in Polish and English
  5. Krakow’s Kazimierz – Irena Michałowicz – tour in Ukrainian
  6. Jewish Ghetto in Podgórze – Irena Michałowicz – tour in Ukrainian
  7. Ruah – The Way of Return – Janusz Makuch / especially for JCF

LEHAVDIL art poject

This project was committed by the JCF with the Curatorial Collective for Public Art

  1. In Harmony for Angelic Organ – participatory sound performance – Wojtek Blecharz / 7 meetings
  2. Besamim: Herbal Encounters – installation– Shelley Etkin
  3. Besamim: Herbal Encounters – workshops– Shelley Etkin – 5 meetings
  4. Enlace.Echo – site-specific installation– Florence To
  5. Curatorial talks – Yael Sherill, Lianne Mol / 3 meetings

Lehavdil received financial support from the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation
as well as from the European Union through MARIO Project and Minority Rights Group


  1. Auschwitz 360 – VR film (7 sessions)
  2. Gay Days film screening and meeting with its director Yair Qedar, in cooperation with Federation Signs of Equality / DomEQ
  3. Film screening: The Hebrews: The Fourth Window
  4. Film screening: The Hebrews: Black Honey – The life and poetry of Avraham Sutskever
  5. Film screening: The Hebrews: The Raven – Vladimir Ze`ev Jabotinsky
  6. Film screening: The Hebrews: Levantinit – Jacqueline Kahanoff
  7. Film screening: The Hebrews: The Last chapter of A.B Yehoshua
  8. Film screening: The Hebrews: Zelda
  9. Film screening: The Hebrews: Mori – Shabazi`s riddle

MAGGOTS: ON AIR – an rt project by The Machers – volunteers f the festival

  • idea / script / giant puppets: The Machers – festival volunteers
  • curated by: Alex Wellburn, Anne Brüssau, Cèl Zagel, Clarisa Esevich
  • producer: Cèl Zagel
  • cooperation: Stefanie Oberhoff & Agentur Punch
  • total 7 events: 6 workshops and street performance / especially for JCF


  1. Zachorcommemoration of Krakow Jews, in cooperation with Fundacja Polania march from Ghetto Heroes Square towards Kazimierz / especially for JCF
  2. Shabbat Brunch in Chederze 2.0
  3. Shofar radio show by Janusz Makuch and Ula Nowak for Radio Krakow / especially for JCF
  4. Kaz-Lab – multimedia presentation
  5. Π AIR 2 – audiovisual presentation, Hubert Wencel / especially for JCF
  6. And listen to the wind blow – exhibition in the Shefter Gallery / especially for JCF
  7. Powrotyexhibition in Cricoteka in cooperation with the Goethe Institut
  8. Shalom Live – live streaming of the concert @ the Festival Tent
  9. Live radio show by Paulina Bisztyga and Aneta Chudzik from the Festival Tent / especially for JCF

Below you will find recordings of festival events (concerts and lectures / meetings).
List of all evets available as drop-menu in the upper left corner of the player.

photos: Edyta Dufaj, Robert Gądek, Michał Ramus
photo for poster courtesy of Nili Salem