Jewish Journal

Journal of Volunteer. Festival of Jewish Culture in Krakow 30.06.2012

Katarzyna Odrzywołek

July 2, 2012 | 4:00 am

My very first day of being a Jewish Culture Festival volunteer comes to its end. I’m sitting in one of climatic cafes located in Kazimierz,Krakow’s Jewish Quarter. I entertain myself with observing groups of tourists so eagerly searching for reminiscences of the truly Jewish dwellers of the neighborhood. I’m also trying to recap all of today’s events, and the ice cold coffee pushes my braincells to work a little bit harder. Looking at Krakow today I can’t help but notice it’s resemblance to Tel Aviv. I’m pretty sure that today’s temperature in sunlight-bathed capital of Israel was pretty much the same as temperature in capital city of the Lesser Poland. After finals and eight exams I’m not even close to kicking back. I’m also not yet blessed with opportunity for a long night sleep and I don’t expect it to change soon. Fortunately, there are still 3 months of summer break ahead of me.

7 AM, time to wake up. First thing on the agenda – moving to a new apartment. I’m not even going to go into details, I assume that everyone knows just how much of a breakneck task it is. Next assignment was much more pleasant, and also related directly to the Festival. For about 3 hours I accompanied tour guide Anna Kiessel as she showed around the „Jewish Krakow” to 35 English tourists. Getting ready only took about 45 minutes. At 12 PM sharp I took my always reliable bike – has great airconditioning by the way – to the Volunteer Centre. When I got there, next to a large group of volunteers already waiting for me was also a microphone and a loudspeaker, irreplaceable utensils when it comes to guiding that many people in such a noisy city. Keeping in mind high temperature, my friend Maria and I took couple of gallons of water with us, systematically filling up supplies on the go. Tenement after tenement, starting from Tempel Synagogue and finishing at the Main Square, our tour came to an end. So many names and events, stories about people who lived right here, changing and influencing pre-war Krakow amazed our audience. I finally got back to the Volunteer Centre around 4 PM.

It’s not hard to presume what was next … operation “Moving out” continued. Much deserved breathing space came at 7 PM, accompanied with thoughts about two upcoming events that are taking place tonight. First one is a 2 hour Vistula cruise with Haferflocken Swingers, which pretty much means a night of swinging and time-traveling back to crazy 20’s. Second option is Melaveh Malkah, a joyous ceremony of farewell to Sabbath starting in about two hours. I’m picking option No2 and now planning on having some dinner. Queen of Kazimierz, famous pizzabread stand, here I come!

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