The Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture
Sunday, November 17, 2019 – Tuesday, November 19, 2019
The Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture — one of the most celebrated arts festivals in Poland — returns to New York City, November 17–19, 2019 for the second year. The most highly anticipated event on Warsaw’s cultural calendar, this year’s local program features a cantorial concert by Yaakov Lemmer and Frank London, film screenings, readings of short stories by I.B. Singer, and plays by the Jewish Theater in Warsaw, one of only two Jewish theaters in Europe.
Now in its 16th edition, the Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture is an iconic annual event organized by Warsaw’s Shalom Foundation in cities associated with the Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. The artistic director is Golda Tencer, director of the The Ester Rachel and Ida Kaminska Jewish Theatre in Poland – Center of Yiddish Culture, creator of the Shalom Foundation.
The festival opens November 17 at the Lincoln Square Synagogue with a concert by the world-class cantor Yaakov Lemmer and Grammy Award winner Frank London, featuring the work of Gershon Sirota and Mordechai Gebirtig. This unforgettable musical event will be followed by a performance of Itzik Manger’s play Humesh Lider by the Jewish Theater in Warsaw, directed by Andrei Munteanu, with a score by Dov Seltzer, one of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary composers and conductors. Itzik Manger takes us on a journey through the rich world of Yiddish tradition with the lighthearted, funny and informative poems from his “Five Books of the Torah” and their Biblical characters, whom the author depicts as contemporary Jews living in small-town Poland in the 1920s.
Naturally, the festival will also showcase the work of its namesake, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Children and adults are invited to attend Singer Storytime at the Brooklyn Public Library — Midwood Branch and the New York Public Library – Riverside Branch. Special guests who will read stories by I.B. Singer include actors: Anna Podolak, Dawid Szurmiej, Jasper McGruder and Stacey Robinson. The event of the New York Library will feature Mr. Adrian Kubicki, the director of The Polish Cultural Institute in New York.
The festival continues at the City College of New York, which will host screenings of the films Yentland Enemies, A Love Story, both adapted from the writings of I.B. Singer.
Yentl, directed by Barbra Streisand, takes place in early-twentieth-century Eastern Europe. It tells the story of a young Jewish girl whose aspirations to study the Talmud are constrained by Orthodox tradition, which forbids the education of women. But Yentl has no intention of giving up on her dreams. Yentl is based on the life of Singer’s sister, the writer Esther Kreitman, whose extraordinary story continues to fascinate audiences today.
Enemies, A Love Story, directed by Paul Mazursky, is adapted from another novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer. The two leading roles in this funny yet heartbreaking story about a group of immigrants in New York, struggling to cope with their Holocaust experiences, are played by Anjelica Huston and the Polish actress Malgorzata Zajaczkowska, performing under her Hollywood stage name, Margaret Sophie Stein.
Both screenings will be followed by a discussion panel hosted by Andrzej Krakowski, a New York-based screenwriter, director and film producer, author of the book Pollywood.
The festival will conclude with a performance of A Wall, directed by Maciej Wojtyszko and starring Ewa Dabrowska on November 19 at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York. This monodrama by the Jewish Theater in Warsaw is inspired by the true story of Irena Sendler who, during World War II, saved the lives of thousands of children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. For this act of heroism, she was recognized as being among the Righteous Among the Nations. In her lifetime, Sendler, who was also named the “Female Varsovian of the Century,” remained largely silent about her remarkable deeds.
This important dramatic presentation forms the appropriate closing event of the second annual NYC celebration of Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture.
Financed from the funds of: the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland, within the scope of the Multiannual Program INDEPENDENT 2017-2022, as part of the “Cultural Bridges” subsidy program of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute; Public Diplomacy 2019, a grant program by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and co-financed from funds granted by City of Warsaw.