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Cultural hotbed Weimar highlights a mix of cultures in their Yiddish Summer Weimar festival.

A number of Jewish cultural festivals are happening all over the world this summer. The centerpiece, however, is the Yiddish Summer Weimar (YSW), a full month of cultural tours, performances, and workshops.

For Germans, Weimar was always a cultural hotbed. The city is home to celebrated German cultural symbols like Goethe and Schiller. It was known throughout Germany, and even Europe for its literature, visual arts and music. The best Jewish cultural icons gave their best performances in the city from 1918 to 1933, the year Nazis took over the metropolis. Weimar, throbs with artistic innovation and cultural activity. Its latest cultural feather is the Yiddish Summer Weimar or YSW as the event is popularly known. The event, which is at its 17th year, began as a Yiddish music worskhop in Weimar under the 1999 European Summer Academy. It has evolved into “one of the most respected festivals for Jewish music and culture in the world,” writes Yael Breuer.

The 2017 theme of the YSW is “The Other Israel: Seeing Unseen Diasporas.” According to Dr. Alan Bern, Founder and Director, “as with all our projects, our goal is not merely to gain new knowledge, but to change how we experience ourselves and others, to create new possibilities for being together in this world.”

Other than the usual festive calendar, there will be a number of workshops and concerts dedicated to the number of cultures present in Israel. Ashkenazi culture will also be depicted. (Ashkenazi Jews are a Jewish diaspora population that converged in the Holy Roman Empire in the first century). The interplay among the different cultures will also be shown.

One interesting mix will be the Voices of Peace Choir from Jaffa. The choir has Jewish musicians and singers performing with Arab-Israeli girls. The performance includes a number of Yiddish children's songs written by Kadya Molodowsky. They will perform in tandem with Schola Cantorum, of Weimar city.

The Caravan Orchestra of Haifa will also perform in Weimar. The cast includes Jews performing with Arab Israelis. This orchestra will play with many European musicians of different musical genres. The result will be a one-of-a-kind concert program blending Jewish, European and Arab traditions. The list of other must-see programs includes a concert to honor Ruth Rubin, the ethnomusicologist, and Yiddish classes. There will also be a workshop with the famous Mendy Cahan on badkhones (wedding rhymes). Yuri Vedenyapin will also teach the most engaging way to tell Yiddish stories.

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