Project Bashert


This audio-video collage Bashert (Yiddish): inevitable, (pre)destined was prepared for Irena Klepfisz's tour in Poland 2017 by Art, History & Apfelstrudel Foundation in co-production with JCC Warsaw.
The poem "Bashert" written & performed by Irena Klepfisz

Irena Klepfisz is a poet, Yiddish translator, and teacher of Jewish Women Studies. She was born in 1941 in the Warsaw Ghetto and eventually hidden in a Catholic orphanage. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising claimed the life of her father, Michal Klepfisz, a resistance fighter and a Bund activist who was posthumously awarded the Virtuti Militari medal. After the Warsaw Uprising, she and her mother, Rosa Perczykow-Klepfisz, hid in a village until the liberation. They then moved to Lodz and, in 1946, emigrated to Sweden, and in 1949, to the United States.
Irena Klepfisz has been active in feminist, lesbian, Jewish secular and peace organizations. She began publishing her poetry in 1971 and soon focused her research on Yiddish women writers (e.g. Kadya Molodovsky and Fradl Shtok). She co-founded the feminist literary magazine Conditions and served as the Yiddish editor of the Jewish feminist magazine Bridges. She also co-edited The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Woman's Anthology. She is the author of A Few Words in the Mother Tongue (Poetry) and Dreams of an Insomniac (Essays). While teaching Jewish Women's Studies at Barnard College, Klepfisz also taught for ten years at a maximum security women's prison. She received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry and was recently awarded the prestigious Adrienne Cooper Dreaming in Yiddish Award 2016.

Sound direction & editing Marcin Lenarczyk
Irena Klepfisz's voice recording Michael Winograd
DOP & editing Marek Gajczak
Camera assistant Wiktor Owlasiuk, Cine Rental, Krakow
Concept and production Gabi von Seltmann
In co-production with JCC Warsaw
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June 2017

How Love Can Heal the Past


The past and the present tend to clash at the most unexpected of times. Like on the night in July of 2006 in Kraków, when German journalist Uwe von Seltmann met Polish artist Gabriela Maciejowska. The two fell in love, but not before learning that their pasts shared a dark connection: During World War II, Uwe’s grandfather, Lothar von Seltmann, was a member of the SS in Kraków, while Gabriela’s grandfather, Michał Pazdanowski, was murdered by Nazis in Auschwitz.

Uwe von Seltmann shows us that the repercussions of National Socialism still weigh heavily on the lives of the families of those involved. Seltmann – the grandson of a Nazi officer – along with his Polish wife Gabriela – whose grandfather was murdered in Auschwitz – explore their family’s histories in an attempt to lay the ghosts of the past to rest. Joachim Gauck, President of Germany

How Love Can Heal the Past - DEMO

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S'brent (It is burning) by The Mordechai Gebirtig Project

S'brent by Mordechai Gebirtig - Collage on tape vocals, cello & viola. Contemporary interpretation of archival recordings (Yad Vashem).
Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism. Against Nationalism and Injustice. Please share this statement and don't stand with folded arms!
It burns! Brothers! It burns! Don't stand with folded arms. Don't just stand, put out the fire!

Gabriela von Seltmann - art director & production
Uwe von Seltmann - producer
DJ Lenar - arrangement, editing & mix
Dorota Jarema - vocal & vocal arrangement
Marek Gajczak - DOP & editing
Bartłomiej Tyciński - bass line arrangement
Karalina Orsik-Sauter - viola
Dominika Żur - cello
Anna Rozenfeld - Yiddish consultation
© Foundation Art, History & Apfelstrudel (

It burns! Brothers! It burns!
And you stand and look around
With folded arms
Our village burns!

It burns! Brothers! It burns!
Don't stand with folded arms
Don't just stand, put out the fire!
Because our village burns!

"S'brent" (It is burning) is one of the most popular songs in Yiddish language. It was written by the poet and songwriter Mordechai Gebirtig (1877-1942), who spent almost his entire life in Kraków's Jewish quarter Kazimierz and was killed by Germans in Krakow`s Ghetto on 4 June 1942. Gebirtig wrote “S'brent, undzer shtetl brent“ (“It’s Burning, Our Town Is Burning“) in 1938. His best-known song was a prophetic vision of the nightmare to come and became the unofficial hymn of the ghetto uprisings and the Jewish partisans.

Making a living working as a carpenter, he saw himself as a “zinger fun noyt“ (“Singer of need“). “S'brent“ and other songs like “Kinder-yorn“, “Arbetloze-marsh“ or “Blayb gezunt mir, Kroke“ have survived the Shoa and are sung until today by renowned artists from all over the world. His legacy is not only of melodies and lyrics, but also on his descriptions of Jewish life in Poland - under the Austrians, the Poles and the Germans.

In 2017, we will commemorate the 140th anniversary of birth and the 75th anniversary of murder of Mordechai Gebirtig. We would like to invite all people to remember and honor the life and legacy of the great Yiddish poet and singer and bring him back to the public awareness.

The award-winning Yiddish documentary Boris Dorfman – A Mentsh


Boris Dorfman – A Mentsh is a 50-minute film shot entirely in Yiddish (subtitled in English). Set in the formerly multinational city of Lviv in Ukraine, it is the first part of a planned Yiddish trilogy. Lviv was a center of Jewish culture for over six hundred years, only to be shattered and destroyed during World War II. Seventy years later, Boris Dorfman takes us on a profound journey to places of horror and hope, emblematic of Jewish history. The ninety-year-old activist is virtually the last person in town still speaking the almost extinct language of Yiddish. Both a living relic of a bygone era and a defender against oblivion. While remembering the past, he lives in the present and tries to prepare people for the future. He is “a mentsh”, someone full of love and empathy.

The Mordechai Gebirtig Project


In 2017, we will commemorate the 140th anniversary of the birth and the 75th anniversary of the murder of Mordechai Gebirtig (1877-1942). We want to remember and honor the life and legacy of the great Yiddish poet and singer, and bring him back into the public consciousness.

Born in 1877 in the Jewish district of Kazimierz in Kraków, Gebirtig was killed by Germans in the Kraków Ghetto on June 4, 1942. Making a living working as a carpenter, he saw himself as a zinger fun noyt (Singer of need). His best-known song, s’brent, undzer shtetl brent (It’s Burning, Our Town Is Burning) – a prophetic vision of the nightmare to come – was the unofficial hymn of the ghetto uprisings and the Jewish partisans. S’brent and other songs like kinder-yorn, arbetloze-marsh, or blayb gezunt mir, kroke have survived the Shoah and are performed to this day by renowned artists from all over the world. Gebirtig’s legacy chronicles not only melodies and lyrics, but also descriptions of Jewish life in Poland, recounting struggles with poverty, hunger, violence, despair and resistance.

Starring on video and audio clips: Michael Alpert, Daniel Kahn (photo), Benjy Fox-Rosen, Sarah Gordon, Dorota Jarema, The Klezmatics, David Krakauer, Frank London, Benzion Miller, Jake Shulman-Ment, Lorin Sklamberg, Jeff Warschauer, Steve Weintraub, and more.


Projekt Ginczanka


Zuzanna Ginczanka, born Sara Polina Gincburg (born in 1917 in Kiev; killed in Krakow in 1944), was a visionary and a poetess who loved life and found joy in words. A true star of interwar bohemian circles, she was feted by the likes of Julian Tuwim and Witold Gombrowicz. An emancipated and charismatic woman, she spent her entire life challenging stereotypes. Her Jewish appearance was both a blessing and a curse. Forced into of constant hiding and escape during World War II, Ginczanka was the victim of persecution and betrayal. Eventually, she was arrested, tortured and killed by the Gestapo, only weeks before the Red Army entered Kraków.

Ginczanka. Zar-Ptak is a live musical performance which involves vocals, instruments and stunning visuals.
The creators of this project are inspired by the timeless poetry of Zuzanna Ginczanka, which is here combined with Paweł Szamburski's innovative compositions and Dorota Jarema's shamanic voice. Both musicians are widely known and admired, in Poland and increasingly abroad.
With musical improvisation and vocals, whispers, murmurs, steps and animal sounds, the two musicians weave a dreamlike tale which includes prophecies about the light and dark aspects of love and life, written by Ginczanka in a language which still rings true today.
The visual projections were formed of images shot during Ginczanka's time, a video-collage cut of experimental films, avant-garde footage and amateur clips, inspired and relating to Ginczanka's verses. The film fragments add to the emotional and visual experience of the show.
Ginczanka tells the tales of an Emancipated Woman, a Poet and a Jewess. It is a story of instincts, senses, physiology and emotions. Omnipresent love and the wonder of life mixed with irony, betrayal and fear are the heroes of this narrative. Wasps, lynxes, wild cats, pumas and foxes make their appearance, as does the legendary Fire-bird, a spirit of magical powers.
The Fire-bird becomes a Phoenix on the stage, the mythical symbol of rebirth and immortality. Similarly, more than seventy years after her death, the fragmentary memory of Ginczanka and her words are evoked.
The poet's words find completion: “and I, fragmented, here now myself must find”

Dorota Jarema: music, vocals, improvisation
Kamilla Baar-Kochańska: staging, acting
SzaZa (Paweł Szamburski, Patryk Zakrocki): music,improvisation
Gabi von Seltmann: artistic concept, staging