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Literary Programme: Wise Men of Chelm by Menachem Kipnis

30.06.2021 - 20:00 / Festival Tent | streaming live: and

Books sound good when told live, so during the 30th JCF literary meetings cycle we have decided to cooperate with those who bring back the magic of traditional storytelling not only on stage, but also in urban areas and outdoors, for instance in gardens, cafes and streets – the contemporary hakawati, known, for example, from the alleys of towns and cities in the Middle East.

In the course of two two-hour-long meetings by storytellers from Grupa Studnia O., the organizer of the International Storytelling Festival in Warsaw, we will look at two completely different texts – stories by Menachem Kipnis from Rabbi Without a Head and the Oath of Alliance by Shmuel Yosef Agnon.
A pre-war Jewish equivalent of Ipswich, the town of Chełm, was in Yiddish culture the subject of an infinite number of anecdotes and stories, quoted and repeated in most important books in that language, with Singer’s novels at the fore. “About the inhabitants of this town it is said (…) somewhat jokingly that they should not be called the stupid ones from Chełm, but rather the stupefiers from Chełm, because in fact they are not stupid, but try to make fools out of other people” said Menachem Kipnis in his collection entitled Rabbi Without a Head and other stories from the town of Chełm. Who were these “fools”, why were they interchangeably called “sages” and what connects them with the master of paradox Hoxha Nasreddin – the Arab equivalent of the Jewish Shlemiel? And lastly what do they have to tell us today, in times of the plague?

The event has been organized in cooperation with KBF Krakow Festival Office, the operator of the programme Krakow UNESCO City of Literature.
Co-financed by the Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport from the Culture Promotion Fund.



Grupa Studnia O.: Beata Frankowska, Jarosław Kaczmarek

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