These words are dedicated to those who survived
because life is a wilderness and they were savage
because life is an awakening and they were alert
because life is flowering and they blossomed because
life is a struggle and they struggled
because life is a gift and they were free to accept it
These words are dedicated to those who survived

Bashert” excerpt of poem Bashert by Irina Klepfisz

This audio-video collage Bashert (Yiddish): inevitable, (pre)destined was prepared for Irena Klepfisz’s tour in Poland 2017 by Gabi von Seltmann and 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