Kadimah celebrates a centenary of culture

MELBOURNE is set to celebrate the centenary of the Kadimah – the Jewish cultural centre – with a year of special events, starting this weekend with a nostalgic tour and concert.

Kadimah president Alex Dafner said a series of events – including concerts, films and literary functions – will be held throughout 2012.

“One of the really exciting events being staged is the show Ek Velt, which was first performed at the International Yiddish Theatre Festival in Montreal in June,” he said. “It’s a musical tour through Australian Yiddish theatre, looking at the origins of the Jewish community in Australia. It’s performed by Evelyn Krape, Tomi Kalinski and Elisa Gray and staged by Zaftik.”

Ek Velt was the official Australian entry at the Montreal festival and marked the first time that the three performers had teamed up for a Yiddish show. They have worked on additional content for the production, which opens at the Phoenix Theatre in Elwood on February 29.

Dafner said other celebration highlights will include a Yiddish Sof Vokh (weekend) in June, featuring a program of readings, singing, games and films. Boris Sandler, the editor of the Yiddish Forward (Forverts) newspaper in New York, will be a special guest.

There will also be performances by international actor-director Rafael Goldwaser from Strasbourg, France, in July and August.

The Kadimah will publish a special edition of the Melbourne Chronicle (Melburne Bletter) edited by Arnold Zable and Moishe Ajzenbud to celebrate 100 years of publishing history, along with an audiovisual collection drawing on the best Yiddish radio shows in the archives.

While most of the events will be held in 2012, this weekend sees the celebrations kick off with a bus tour from the current Kadimah in Elsternwick, stopping in Bourke Street, Melbourne – where the original Kadimah was located – and then to Carlton, the site of a former Kadimah that is now an Italian cultural organisation. It will be the venue for a lunch and a Yiddish cabaret concert for more than 200 people.

“The old Kadimah was such an important institution in its heyday for the Jewish community,” said Dafner.

“There will be a poetry reading, some comedy and Yiddish theatre that will evoke memories of the era.”

He said the Mameloshn – How Yiddish Made a Home in Melbourne exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Australia – which continues until March 2012 – has sparked wide interest in Yiddish culture.

“The exhibition is giving people a taste of what Yiddish Melbourne was like and the events at the Kadimah will add to the interest.”

Enquiries: home.iprimus.com.au/kadimah.

DANNY GOCS

PHOTO of Kadimah president Alex Dafner.