• In July 2011 the Mystorin Theatre Group from Israel presented the world premier of “Baalei Shem” in the Main Square in Krakow, Poland in the framework of the International Street Theatre Festival “Ulica 24”.  The performance was supported by the European Jewish Fund.

    “Baalei Shem”, the new outdoor performance of the Mystorin theatre group, offered thousands of spectators a new poetic narrative in which images of Hebrew letters, Hasidic stories, singing of traditional piutim and allusions to the Holocaust were interwoven. For many of the close to 4000 viewers it was a first encounter with Judaism and Jews that was not specifically Holocaust-related but vibrant and creative. They were moved by the beauty and the spiritual strength that can be found within the Jewish tradition.

    The performance at Krakow’s Main Square was combined with discussions with the audience, seminars and batei midrash where texts that inspired the project were studied in connection to the spiritual Jewish history of Eastern Europe. During these seminars participants were able to learn more about the Hassidic tradition, its connection to Poland and the role it played in the evolvement of Jewish spiritual thought. Seminars also provided insights into the creative process behind “Baalei Shem” and showed how we find inspiration in Hassidic rituals to create modern theatre thus demonstrating the continuity between Jewish past and present.

    Before WWII the Jewish population of Krakow was estimated at 60.000 people. The city was an eminent Jewish activity center, with more than 300 synagogues, and flourishing culture, education and welfare institutions. After the Holocaust and the anti-Semite persecutions of the 1960s, all those ceased to exist. Walking through the streets of Kazimierz, the old Jewish neighborhood, situated in the very heart of modern Krakow, both Jews and non-Jews cannot stay indifferent to what happened there. The Holocaust has left behind feelings of sadness, guilt, anger and shame.

    The project of the Mystorin theatre group brought Jewish culture back to the streets of Krakow offering both Jews and non Jews a way to remember the Holocaust together without hatred, a way that will not lessen the tragedy but provided possibilities for tolerance, partnership, understanding and coexistence.

  • 1 Comment

    Take a look at some of the responses we've had to this article.

    1. Howard Goldman
      Posted on February 1st

      Like the language of G!d, music speaks straight to the heart. Kol Ha’kavod, Mystorin, you rock.

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