Manchester Jewish Museum (MJM) launched its ‘Festival of Leaving’ yesterday evening with storytelling around a bonfire, a caravan of hidden treasures and a Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ art installation.

The launch party marks the start of a two-week arts festival (5-18 Nov) at the museum about leaving, loss and legacy. The festival comes a few months before MJM will temporarily leave its historic synagogue and move into Central Library to allow for the construction of a new museum.

Over the next two weeks MJM will be staging 15 events with over 50 artists, 2 art installations and 1 podcast.

This week’s highlights include: a haunting and poignant performance from folk singer-songwriter Ana Silvera, whose great grandparents married in MJM’s synagogue (Weds 7 Nov); and Bubble Schmeisis, a critically acclaimed show from Nick Cassenbaum who will transform MJM into a Jewish steambath, taking everyone on a journey, schelping through summer camps, barber shops and Spurs games (Thurs 8 Nov).

Next week, straight from a 5-star review at the Edinburgh Festival, MJM stages bloominauschwitz, a one-man show which imagines Leopold Bloom breaking free of James Joyce’s great novel ‘Ulysses’ to re-discover his Jewish roots (15 Nov). Hope Mill Theatre will conclude the festival with their version of The Great Jewish American Song Book, including songs from ‘Rags’, the sequel to ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ (18 Nov).

The festival will be for all ages with other events including shadow puppetry, poetry, printmaking, storytelling and interactive art installations.

This ambitious festival is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England (ACE). It is also part of MJM’s current development project funded by HLF.

Building work will start on the new museum early next year. During the closure period, there will be a ‘pop-up’ Jewish Museum in Manchester Central Library, hosting a wide range of activities. The new museum is planned to open in 2020.

Museum CEO, Max Dunbar said “Thanks to the support of HLF and ACE this Festival enables us to play, experiment and test out a whole new way of working at MJM. We’re all extremely excited to stage such a diverse and vibrant festival and hope to welcome many new faces to our beautiful building ahead of our move to Central Library next year.”


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