Jewish Heritage Europe

Check out the rich resources on -- an online clearing house for news and information on Jewish heritage that I coordinate as a project of the Rothschild Foundation Europe

Friday, August 29, 2014

More than 40 Jewish Culture, etc, festivals each year in Poland!

Singer's Warsaw Festival, 2011

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Readers of this blog know that each year since 2009 I have tried to put together a list of Jewish culture, music, film -- etc -- festivals that take place around Europe.

This year (so far) the list includes 40 or so, in more than a dozen countries.

My list is far from totally comprehensive -- I know I miss quite a few events. But I believe it is still probably the most complete list of such festivals Europe-wide.

Still, my list's incomplete-ness is borne out by a list of Jewish culture and other festivals in Poland, researched and complied by Agnieszka Gis, a young volunteer at the Krakow Jewish Community Center who this summer is working as an intern at the Taube Foundation in San Francisco.

Agnieszka's list includes more than 40 festivals, of all sorts. That's 40 Jewish culture, film, music and other such festivals in Poland alone -- a country whose Jewish community today numbers probably some 15,000 or so!

There are big festivals, such as the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow and the Singer's Warsaw festival in Warsaw. But many are in small towns and even  far-flung villages. Most are organized by non-Jews and directed at a non-Jewish audience, perfect examples of what I have I described as the "virtually Jewish" phenomenon.

Click here to see Agnieszka's list in PDF form (you will have to enlarge it to read)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The August Jewish Heritage Europe Newsletter is Out!

Synagogue in Orla, Poland. Photo: W. Wejman/Shtetl Routes

The latest edition -- August -- of the Jewish Heritage Europe monthly Newsletter is out, and up online.

It features a selection of items that were posted on JHE's regular Newsfeed over the past month.

Top story is the series of "field notes" from the ambitious Shtetl Routes project, a Jewish heritage tourism project in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine that is under way with a more than $400,000 grant from the European Union.

Other stories range from the completed restoration of the synagogue in Tulcea, Romania to archaeology at Krakow's Old Synagogue.

Take a look!

It's easy to subscribe -- you'll get the Newsletter automatically in your email inbox.

Also subscribe to the regular Newsfeed for more frequent updates about what's happening in the Jewish heritage world.

New tourism app for Jewish Basel, Switzerland

By Ruth Ellen Gruber
Going to Basel, Switzerland and interested in Jewish life and heritage?
Then you'll want to get a new app for smartphones and tablets that is officially being launched on August 26.
Called "Baleph," the app is designed for both IOS and Android platforms and is in English and German.
It leads the user on a "stroll through Basel's Jewish history" via a 13-stop, multimedia walking tour that highlights Jewish history in the city from the middle ages to the present. Featuring  text, sound, and images, an Interactive timeline, and a city map with GPS function, it contains 65 minutes of audio material covering a tour lasting 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Here are the links:

Monday, July 21, 2014

July Jewish Heritage Newsletter: Czech 10 Stars; Photo Galleries

Bimah and reconstructed Ark in the synagogue in Mikulov. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Please take a look at the July edition of the monthly newsletter of Jewish Heritage Europe -- the website on Jewish heritage issues that I coordinate as a project of the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe.

Access it by clicking here -- and sign up for regular monthly delivery.

This issue has two main "cover stories," plus links to other news from Poland, France, Austria, Hungary and elsewhere.

One cover theme  is the launch of new Photo Galleries on JHE -- galleries that readers are encouraged to contribute to.

The other is the inauguration in June of the wonderful Czech 10 Stars project, one of the most ambitious single Jewish heritage projects in Europe, linking 10 synagogues and associated Jewish heritage sites, in 10 towns all over the Czech Republic: in Úštěk, Jičín, and Brandýs nad Labem to the north; Plzeň and Březnice to the west; Nová Cerekev and Polná in the south-central part of the country; and Boskovice, Mikulov and Krnov to the east.

Synagogue interior, Polná. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

They have all been renovated (or re-renovated) with a mono-thematic exhibit installed in each to form 10 regional centers of Jewish culture and education (and tourism) -- sort of a nationwide Jewish museum..... (See previous JHE posts on the progress of the 10 Stars project HERE and HERE and HERE.)

Carried out by the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, the 10 Stars was financed by an approximately €11 million grant from the EU, with further funding from the Czech Culture Ministry.

I traveled hundreds of kilometers over the past few weeks to visit seven of these sites -- and have posted galleries of pictures from most of them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jewish Heritage Europe launches monthly Newsletter

Door to the orthodox synagogue in Presov, Slovakia

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Jewish Heritage Europe -- the web site that I coordinate -- has just launched a monthly newsletter! The first edition came this week and contains a description of the web site's features as well as highlights from our regular almost-daily news feed.

JHE is an expanding web portal to news, information and resources concerning Jewish monuments and heritage sites all over Europe. A project of the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe, we foster communication and information exchange regarding projects, initiatives and other developments: restoration, funding, projects, best-practices, advisory services and more.

Our newsfeed is updated almost daily, and by now, with well over 500 posts, it represents a major searchable database of information on the contemporary status of Jewish built heritage in Europe.

Please take a look -- and subscribe and share!
Click here to see the Newsletter

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Balagan Cafe in Florence is Back for the Summer

by Ruth Ellen Gruber

Going to Florence this summer? Well, Balagan Cafe is back -- the weekly open house/garden party on the tree-shaded grounds of the city's magnificent synagogue.

Just about every Thursday evening through August, the Jewish community invites the public for what they call an "apericena" -- a combination aperitivo drink and cena, or dinner -- with kosher food, wine and fancy cocktails.

In addition to the edibles and libations, each night programs concerts, talks, performances or other events, not to mention stands selling books, CDs and souvenirs.

Click here to see the full program.

The first edition of the Cafe was a big hit last summer -- with hundreds of people attending each week. They included members of the Jewish community but also many members of the mainstream public.

As I wrote last November in an article for The Forward:

Each Café featured music, lectures, discussions, performances and other events. There were free guided tours of the synagogue and stands selling books, CDs, Judaica and Balagan Café T-shirts depicting a full moon over the synagogue dome. Performers and featured participants included nationally known figures such as the rock singer Raiz, the Tzadik label klezmer jazz clarinetist Gabriele Coen, and the architect Massimiliano Fuksas, who designed, among other things, the Peres Peace House in Israel.
Meanwhile, food stands sold kosher meals and kosher wine to crowds eager to sample couscous, baked eggplant, beans with cumin and harissa, spicy chickpeas, Roman-style sweet and sour zucchini and other specialties. One evening saw a “competition” between Sephardic and Ashkenazic cooking; another featured a lesson in challah-making.
About 300 people turned up for the first Café in early June — most of them Jewish community members and their friends. But each week the numbers grew, thanks to enthusiastic local media coverage as well as word of mouth.
“It conquered the city,” journalist Fulvio Paloscia wrote in La Repubblica. By the summer’s last Café, on Aug. 29 — where I was featured in a public conversation ... about Jewish culture and mainstream society — the event drew 800 people. Crowds milled about the garden and listened to two concerts, one by a klezmer band and one by Sephardic singer Evelina Meghnagi. They also mobbed the food stand, where some 450 kosher meals were sold.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thousands visit Rome Jewish Museum, show Solidarity to Brussels

Visitors to Rome Jewish Museum Monday night. Photo: Shalom7

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

This post also appears on my En Route blog for the LA Jewish Journal

Thousands of people lined up to visit the Rome Jewish Museum, which was specially opened for free Monday night to show solidarity with the Jewish Museum in Brussels and honor the victims of Saturday's shooting attack, which left four dead.

Other Jewish institutions in Italy also opened Monday night -- including the Shoah Memorial in Milan.

“This is our response to the attack, a ‘white night’ against fear,” Rome Jewish community president Riccardo Pacifici told the Italian media.

In Rome, Jewish leaders and political figures including the presidents of the Lazio and Puglia regions addressed the crowd before they entered the museum. The ambassadors of Belgium and Israel also were in attendance at an opening ceremony broadcast live on Italian TV.

"The Brussels assassins wanted to strike in the heart of culture, in a place where one wants to learn," Pacifici said. "They wanted to intimidate the Jewish community and the general public. Tonight the museum opens its doors to whoever desires to get to know it."

"There is no choice more just than to find ourself in a place of culture in order to respond to hatred and ignorance," Nicola Zingaretti, president of Lazio region, said. "The act of us all being here sends out the message that whoever carries out an act of ignorance will always have the eyes of the world upon them."

Dario Disegni, the president of the Italian Jewish Cultural Heritage Foundation, issued a statement Monday urging the more than a dozen other Jewish museums in Italy to also open to the public for free one day this week. “We feel confident that civil society in our country will want to feel the moral imperative to bear witness, through solidarity with the victims of the crime, to a firm commitment to safeguarding democracy and to the construction of a future of peace, justice and liberty,” he said.

The Association of European Jewish Museums issued a statement about the Brussels attack:
A murderous attack has taken four lives in the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels on Saturday 24 May. The AEJM is deeply shocked by this atrocity directed against an institution that for many years stands for mutual understanding, tolerance and intercultural exchange - a symbol for the only possible future of Europe. We lack the words to describe our feelings of horror and we humbly want to express our solidarity with our friends. Hopefully the murderer will be identified and caught soon and it will be possible to shed light on this crime. We mourn with our colleagues of the Jewish Museum in Brussels and the families of those who lost their loved ones in this attack.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Jewish Culture, etc Festivals 2014

Jewish Culture Festival, Krakow. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

As usual, I am trying to put together a list of as many as possible of the numerous Jewish festivals -- culture, film, dance, etc -- that take place each year around Europe. Please help me by sending me information!

The big culture festivals and other smaller events make good destinations around which to center a trip. Some, like the annual Festival of Jewish Culture in Krakow, are huge events lasting a week or more, which draw thousands of people and offer scores or sometimes hundreds of performances, lectures, concerts, exhibits and the like. Other festivals are much less ambitious. Some are primarily workshops but also feature concerts. Many of the same artists perform at more than one festival.

The list will be growing and growing -- and again, I ask my readers to please send me information and links to upcoming events. Thanks!

ALL OVER EUROPE -- September 14 --  15th European Day of Jewish Culture (This year's theme -- Women in Judaism)


May 18-27 -- Vienna -- Jewish Culture Festival


July 10-13 -- Boskovice -- 22nd Festival for the Jewish Quarter

July 28-August 2 -- Trebic -- Shamayim Jewish Culture Festival


June 5-9 -- Copenhagen -- Jewish Culture Festival


June 10-26 -- Paris -- 10th Aimer Festival of Jewish Cultures


March 30-April 13 -- Berlin & Potsdam -- Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam

July 19-August 16 -- Weimar -- Yiddish Summer Weimar

August 5-9 -- Weimar -- YSW Festival Week


June 8 -- Budapest --  7th Judafest Jewish street and gastronomic festival

August 31- September 7 -- Budapest -- Jewish Summer Festival


May 29-June 1 -- Rome -- European Jewish Choir Festival

Every Thursday June 12-Sept 4 -- Florence -- Balagan Cafe

September 13-16 -- Milan -- Jewish and the City festival

September 13-17 -- Rome -- International Jewish Literature Festival


April 30 - May 4 -- Leeuwarden -- Jiddisch Festival

September 13-16 -- Amsterdam -- International Jewish Music Festival and Competition


Click here for a full list of more than 40 Jewish culture festivals in Poland

March 18-21 -- Szczeczin -- Adlojada Days of Jewish Culture

April 22-27  -- Warsaw -- Jewish Motifs Film Festival

May 10-11 -- Poznan -- 2nd Jewish Street Festival

May 22-25 -- Warsaw -- 5th New Jewish Music Festival

May 25-28 -- Warsaw -- 17th Jewish Book Days festival

June 6-10 -- Wroclaw -- 16th Simcha Jewish Culture Festival

June 15-15 -- Chmielnik -- 12th Meeting with Jewish Culture

June 7 -- Krakow -- 7@Nite festival (Night of the Synagogues)

June 13-15 -- Bialystok -- Zachor Festival Color & Sound

June 25-28 -- Oswiecim -- Oswiecim Life Festival

June 27-29 -- Zdunska Wola -- Festival of Three Cultures

June 27-July 6 -- Krakow -- Jewish Culture Festival

July 7 -- Szczekociny -- VII Jewish Culture Festival "Yahad"

July 12-26 -- southeast Poland -- In the Footsteps of Singer festival

August 19-23 -- Kazimierz Dolny -- Pardes Festival

August 22-24 -- Lelow -- Ciulimu-Czulentu festival

August 23-31 -- Warsaw -- Singer's Warsaw Festival 


June 14-17 -- Bucharest -- Abraham Goldfaden Days


May 20-25 -- Oviedo -- Israel Week

June 9-14 -- Cordoba -- International Sephardic Music Festival

June 10-15 -- Barcelona -- Jewish Film Festival


May 15-19 -- L'viv -- Days of Yiddish in L'viv

May 26-30 -- Drohobycz  -- Bruno Schulz Festival


March 28-20 -- Youlgreave (near Matlock) Derbyshire -- KlezNorth

September 7 -- London -- Klezmer in the Park festival

Monday, February 10, 2014

Prague Jewish Museum opens new visitor center

Photo: Jewish Museum Prague

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

The Prague Jewish Museum is the most visited museum in the Czech Republic -- drawing more than half a million visitors a year.

So in a way, it's high time that it has opened a new visitor information and reservation center.

The new facility opened Feb. 3 at Meiselsa 15, close to the historic synagogues that house the museum's collections, as well as to other Jewish sites such as the Old-New synagogue, the Old Jewish cemetery and the Jewish Town Hall.

According to the museum’s announcement on its web site:

This new site provides visitors with a multimedia information space and offers a range of additional services. It is an interactive information gateway with basic details about the monuments and permanent exhibitions in the Jewish Town, as well as about specific Jewish monuments in Prague and the rest of the Czech Republic. It also contains information about current educational and cultural programmes held by the museum and related organizations and institutions. Visitors will also be given useful tips on where to find kosher meals and on services provided by travel agencies specializing in Jewish heritage tours. [...] As well as providing services for individual tourists, the new centre will also accept bookings from guides, school representatives and travel agencies. It also includes a rest area with refreshments and toilet facilities, as well as disabled access and a baby changing table.

In October, the museum will mark 20 years since it was given back to Jewish ownership by the state, and the new visitor center is just one of the initiatives and changes that are being implemented this year to mark the anniversary.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Recent updates from Jewish Heritage Europe

Postcard showing Chmielnik synagogue and the Archangel Gabriel

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

As I have begun to do on a regular basis, I'm posting here last week's updates from, the web site that I coordinate as a project of the Rothschild Foundation Europe. There's news mainly from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus.

I post on the JHE newsfeed several times a week, to keep content dynamic on what we aim to make the go-to web site for Jewish heritage issues in Europe. JHE will celebrate two years online next month, and we are planning to expand the enhance the site with new features.

Meanwhile -- please subscribe to the JHE news feed! You can use the subscribe buttons on the home page or on any of the news pages. The deal is that, on days that I post on the JHE news feed, you will receive one email with the links to the posts. Easy, convenient and informative, no? And you won't miss any of the feed.

Look at all the news we ran last week:

"Shtetl Routes" under development with EU grant in Poland-Belarus-Ukraine border region

An ambitious, international “Shtetl Routes” tourism itinerary through a score or more of towns in the Poland-Belarus-Ukraine border region is under development with a more than €400,000 grant from the European Union’s Cross-border Cooperation Programme Poland-Belarus-Ukraine 2007-2013.

Call for Papers: Conference “Urban Spaces of Lviv/Lwów/Lemberg: Imagination, Experiences, Practices”

Call for papers: New Research on Memory in Eastern Europe conference in Warsaw

Aim of the workshop is to discuss specificity of the collective memory and research of that memory in Ukraine and Belarus

Dariusz Stola named director of Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Report on Jewish Cemeteries in Silesia Province Published

The Brama Cukerman (Cukerman’s Gate) Foundation in Będzin, Poland, has recently published “Our Cemeteries,” a detailed, 50-page report on the state and status of the dozens of Jewish cemeteries in the Silesia Vojvodship (Province).