Manchester Jewish Museum is set to present its first ever Festival of Belonging at venues across the city including Central Library and The Lowry.  The one week event will feature nights of comedy, theatre, storytelling, films and visual arts.

The festival will include events at Manchester Central Library where the Jewish Museum is currently housed during renovations to its site in Cheetham Hill.

The programme for the Festival of Belonging is designed to examine how we assimilate in new places, exploring what makes us feel that we belong and questioning what happens when we don’t.  It is inspired by and features the stories found in the Museum’s collection.  It celebrates the history of the Jewish people who came to Manchester and how they attempted to assimilate, celebrating and fostering a sense of belonging.

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Running throughout the Festival is visual art installation – Dark Room by artist Helena Tomlin – a free exhibition at Central Library exploring the anonymous photographs in the Manchester Jewish Museum’s collection.

Other events at the festival are one-offs, including Good Appetite with theatre chef Leo Burtin whose ticketed event at Manchester Art Gallery fuses storytelling, food and film to present a unique and tasty evening inspired by the Jewish kitchen. Stories are sifted into dishes, history is stirred with spices and cultures from around the world are sprinkled on top. Come with an appetite for food and for life; Critically acclaimed comedians Shazia Mirza, Rachel Creeger and Juliet Meyers come together for an all female multi faith night of comedy in Immigrant Diaries, hosted by multi-award winning comedian/writer, actor and activist Sajeela Kershi;

The Festival of Belonging will also feature Jerusalem born singer/songwriter Avital Raz who brings her politically engaged and fearless solo show My Jerusalem to Manchester.  My Jerusalem spans a 20 year music and performance career, telling the sales of a drunken one night stand and the stories of growing up in 1980s Israel amongst other tales.

Manchester Jewish Museum’s Festival of Belonging also includes the musical exploration of migration Songs of Arrival and a performance by renowned baritone Peter Brathwaite and specially commissioned music from Israeli composer Na’ama Zisser.

What’s on at Manchester Jewish Museum’s Festival of Belonging?

Dark Room by Helena Tomlin
7th-14th March
Museum Pop-up space Central Library Free
A free installation exploring the anonymous photographs in the museum’s collection, the darkroom is a place to come face to face with the people in our archive that we know nothing about and help us to create a caring response to those whose stories have been lost.

Storytelling with Robin Simpson
Saturday 7th March Museum, 2.00pm
Pop-up Space, Manchester Central Library
Experience the amazing stories in our Story Selector Machine, brought to life. Meet Fanny and the two Freddies who made a long train journey to Manchester, have a boogie to the tunes played at a 1911 dance at Cheetham Assembly Rooms, and find out what happened to boxer Sam Aarons.

Good Appetite with Leo Burtin
Sunday 8th March, 7.30pm
Manchester Art Gallery Café
£10 (£8 concessions) plus booking fee
Tickets available at:
Theatre Chef Leo is your host for a unique foodie film experience. Enter the diverse world of the Jewish kitchen, where stories are sifted into dishes, history is stirred in with spices, and cultures from around the world are sprinkled on top. Taste, listen and tell your own story.

The Great and the Grand with Dynamite Island Theatre
Monday 9th March, 5.30pm
Performance Space
Manchester Central Library
A sharing of a new musical theatre work in tribute to the sacrifices, support and adventures of our grandparents. What can we learn about ourselves from them, from tall tales to words of wisdom? Come along and celebrate grandparents everywhere. The Family History Archive will also give advice on researching your family from 4.30pm.

Immigrant Diaries with Sajeela Kershi and special guests
Tuesday 10th March, 7.30pm
Performance Space
Manchester Central Library
£10 (£8 concessions) plus booking fee
Tickets available at:
An all-female multi-faith night of comedy on the Jewish Festival of Purim, with special guests Shazia Mirza, Rachel Creeger and Juliet Meyers. Immigration, migrants, the refugee crisis, are hot topics dividing Britain. How many are there? Why are they coming here? What do they want? ‘Statistics don’t tell the story, people do’

My Jerusalem by Avital Raz
Wednesday 11th March, 7.30pm
Performance Space Manchester Central Library
£10 (£8 concessions) plus booking fee
Tickets available at:
A solo performance derived from a song. A politically-charged tale of a drunken one-night stand, infused with stories of growing up in the turmoil of 1980s Israel. A nuanced exploration of the politics of division, from internal checkpoints and separation walls to gender norms. Can we go beyond the blame game and really see each other’s all too vulnerable humanity? The show is followed by a panel discussion with artists Dani Abulhawa and Sarah Spies.
PLEASE NOTE: Contains adult themes, the content of which may cause distress. In particular, issues of political turmoil and child abuse.

Songs of Arrival with Peter Brathwaite, Na’ama Zisser, Joe Steele and MJM’s Song-writing Group
Thursday 12th March, 7.30pm
£10 (£8 concessions) plus booking fee
Tickets available at:
A performance of songs based on the stories of Jewish refugees arriving in Cheetham from our oral history collection as well as contemporary stories of migration to Manchester. We explore how we try to assimilate in new places and what different communities can learn from each other. Moving and joyous, we give voice to historical and modern stories.

Rendezvous in Bratislava (Affiliated Show) with Miriam Sherwood and Dynamite Island
Saturday 14th March, 8.00pm
Tickets direct from The Lowry
Miriam and her granddad are making a cabaret together. They’re the perfect double act: He’s got the stories, she loves telling them, and they both have a flair for the theatrical.
The only problem is – they’ve never met.
And he’s been dead for 39 years.