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14th Jewish Summer Festival

The internationally recognized Budapest Jewish Summer Festival started with an unconventional concert this year, presenting the Adler Trio from Israel, Katica Illenyi violinist and the Cseke Quartet, and ended with huge success.

One of Europe’s biggest Jewish festivals, organized in Hungary every year, has just ended with an immense success. According to Festival Director Vera Vadas, the Jewish Summer Festival (JSF) is one of Hungary’s most important and most visited cultural events. “I guess the date of this particular festival is exceptionally well-scheduled,” Vadas says. “Summer festivals finish, fall festivals don’t start on that very week, which this year was between Aug 27 and Sep 5,” she explains to Diplomacy and Trade. She notes that the millennia-old Jewish traditions have always attracted huge numbers of attendees. “The dynamics of the festival's expansion and progress have fulfilled the expected hopes,” she adds, explaining that 14 years ago only a few thousand people were interested, while this year saw 120,000 visitors. The festival is being developed year by year, turning more colorful and eclectic. “It is also becoming more popular among foreigners who, as the online ticket sales reveal, look forward to the event.

New performers

The festival this year was strongly promoted in Israel and Germany. The budget of this year's fest was HUF 82 million (USD 400,000), and more than 50% of that was realized from ticket fees,” Vadas reveals. Being a pan-cultural festival, JSF offers almost every segment of Jewish culture to those interested. “Of course, the festival has its recurring, public favorite artists,” notes the festival director. “Klezmer and Clerk music is a must, these provide the keystones. Without them, the Jewish festival would not fulfill its
purpose, for what it was first created,” she says. “The emblematic Budapest Klezmer
Band this year played together with the Vujicsics Ensemble. Eszter Horgas and her
Class Jazz Band are also returning guests of the festival. “So is Bea Palya, who has
presented the premier of her nationwide tour entitled ‘A Thousand and One Sephardic
Nights’ within the frame of our festival, on August 30. One of the highlights was the first
time in Hungary performance of the Idan Raichel Project. Mariann Falusi and Tamás
Földes gave a concert of selected songs of Leonard Cohen and Irving Berlin. As usual, the Dohany Synagogue and the Jewish Museum were of course the main venues, but the Gozsdu-court was also a hotspot with arts and crafts bazaar, while the Rumbach Street Synagogue hosted classical music concerts. This year the Jewish Summer festival was enriched with a new venue, the renovated Goldmark Hall, hosting, for instance, a Péter Gerendás concert entitled Family saga. Events were also held at the historical Uránia National Film Theatre, attracting the fans of The Beer-Sheva Theatre who presented their show ‘Play it again, Sam!’ Other performers included David D’Or, Hungarian opera singing diva, Erika Miklósa, Israeli-born young composer and pianist Omer Klein and soprano singer Polina Pasztircsak.

“We try to color the palette every year, launching alternative and innovative concerts, targeting the youth. With such diversity, we want to point out the importance of cultures to live peacefully with each other,” Vadas continues. “The Puskin Cinema hosted the traditional festival program entitled Film Days for the first time, where the most successful and most popular Israeli creations were shown on screen, in cooperation with the Israeli Film and Television Academy. The Festival’s Guest of honor, Giorgio Pressburger, the Hungarianborn writer and director’s film ‘Behind the Darkness,’ was also screened here.”

Réka Alíz Francisck

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