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Polish Cultural Institute @ KlezKanada Summer Retreat

Monday, August 19, 2019 - Sunday, August 25, 2019

Bracha/A Blessing: Back to the Polish Shtetl

Yiddish Women’s Voices

Who Will Write Our History

Polish Cultural Institute New York is thrilled to announce our return to the KlezKanada Summer Retreat, which is now in its 24th year. In partnership with KlezKanada, we will present three projects on the arts and Jewish culture. Over six days, the audience will have a chance to join us in learning about Polish-Jewish culture and scholarship.

The work of award-winning photographer Agnieszka Traczewska will be on view in an exhibition titled “Bracha/A Blessing: Back to the Polish Shtetl,” which will run 19 to 25 August. It showcases evocative photographs from over a decade of contemporary Hasidic pilgrimages across Poland, as well as images of everyday life in this insular community in New York and Jerusalem. Agnieszka will also talk about her unique experiences gaining access and building friendships in the community as a woman, an artist and a non-Jewish outsider during her presentation on Friday, 23 August, in the RC Dining Hall.

The noted poet and activist Irena Klepfisz will be leading this summer’s Intensive Poetry Workshop, Yiddish Women’s Voices. Irena’s extensive body of writing reflects her commitment to secular Jewish identity and to Yiddish women’s creative and intellectual work. She will also be leading a literary workshop on stories by Yiddish women writers. Irena is the author of a collection of essays, Dreams of an Insomniac, and a collection of poems, A Few Words in the Mother Tongue. Most recently, she co-edited The Stars Bear Witness: The Jewish Labor Bund 1897–2017. She has been awarded an NEA fellowship in poetry and recognized with the Adrienne Cooper Dreaming in Yiddish Award.

The third project we are presenting at the Festival is a screening of the film Who Will Write Our History, directed by Roberta Grossman. This “vital Holocaust documentary,” according to Ken Jaworowski from the New York Times, tells the story of a secret band of journalists, scholars and community leaders who decided to document Nazis crimes. This American-Polish co-production features the voices of Academy Award winner Adrien Brody and three-time Academy Award nominee Joan Allen as well as reenactments by Jowita Budnik, Piotr Glowacki and Karolina Gruszka.

KlezKanada was founded in 1996 to teach, nurture and present to a broad public the best of Jewish traditional arts and Yiddish culture. Its goal is to foster Jewish cultural and artistic creativity worldwide as both an ethnic heritage and a constantly evolving contemporary culture and identity. From its start as a small summer festival, KlezKanada has become one of the leading Jewish cultural organizations in the world.

Irena Klepfisz is a Polish-Jewish writer, academic and activist. Klepfisz was born in the Warsaw Ghetto on April 17, 1941. She began publishing her poems in 1971 and has taught English, Yiddish and Women's Studies. She currently teaches at Barnard in New York City.

Agnieszka Traczewska is a film producer and photographer. Since 2006 she has been creating a series of photographs devoted to Hasidic Jews travelling to Poland to visit the graves of Tzadikim. While this is the main theme of her work, she also portrays the world of Orthodox Jewish communities living in Israel and the United States. In 2014, she received the National Geographic Traveler Photo Award for her work “First Time.”

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