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Singer’s Warsaw in New York
The Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture, one of the most celebrated arts festivals in Poland and the leading event of its kind in Warsaw, returns to New York! Join us November 17–19, 2019, for the second edition of Singer’s New York, hosted by the most prestigious venues on the city’s map of Jewish life. The 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 annual event organized by Warsaw’s Shalom Foundation in cities associated with the Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. The artistic director of this event is Gołda 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 cantorial concert by the world-class cantor Yaakov Lemmer and Grammy Award winner Frank London, featuring the work of Gershon Sirota and Mordechai Gebirtig, 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 greatest 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.
Over the next two days of the festival, the City College of New York will host screenings of the films Yentl and 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. Even after she was disowned by her family, Kreitman never abandoned her creative passion. 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 Małgorzata Zajączkowska, 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. This monodrama by the Jewish Theater in Warsaw is inspired by the story of Irena Sendler who, during World War II, saved the lives of thousands of children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto, and was later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. Sendler, who was recently also proclaimed the “Female Varsovian of the Century,” remained silent about her remarkable deeds for many years. Ewa Dąbrowska stars as the extraordinary Irena Sendler.
The closing ceremonies of the festival will be held November 19 at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York.