In One Voice 2022. Photo: Peter Haskin
Uniting the communityIn One Voice

A festival that crosses all divides

In One Voice is a favourite on the Melbourne cultural calendar and 2023 won’t disappoint. As the greatest ever celebration of Jewish culture, In One Voice promises to be an inclusive showcase of community with music, food, art and much more. The AJN explores this year’s line-up.

Main image by In One Voice 2022. Photo: Peter Haskin

A celebration of Jewish life and culture. A show of diversity. Something that unites the community. These are all descriptions of In One Voice, the only Jewish community festival dedicated to expressing the entire spectrum of Jewish life and culture in Melbourne, preseted by SKIF and Kadimah.

Like always, In One Voice this year will feature an all-day music line-up, a food market, makers market and a community groups expo. For 2023, there’s also a live art space with artists in action creating works throughout the day.

It’s a festival that Rachel Chrapot, CEO of the Kadimah Jewish Cultural Centre, calls uniting.

“It’s not one particular group or one particular school, or one particular political association; it’s everybody. I know that’s a hard concept for us to understand given how diverse our community is. But it is truly something that unites the community and it’s a celebration of Jewish culture across the board.”

Chrapot explains that within the community groups expo, there will be a huge range of organisations that don’t know who they’ll be next to until they arrive.

“You’re enveloped by community organisations,” she said, describing how it feels to walk down the street.

“You could be standing next to people representing the LGBTQI+ community or you could be standing next to Chabad. It’s really to show the diversity of the community and it actually warms your heart. Because that’s what the festival is about. It shows that, for all our differences, we can coexist.”

This year’s concert will feature musical acts from the Jewish schools throughout Melbourne as well as several acts showcasing community talent.

The Yiddish Divas will be on hand to give visitors a taste of their sassy new show, Into the Red Tent, which stars Deidre Rubenstein, Karen Feldman, Elisa Gray, Freydi Mrocki, Josh Reuben, Freya Boltman and Noa Coates, with Adam Starr as musical director.

Directed by award-winning performer and Kadimah Yiddish Theatre artistic director Evelyn Krape, this rich production brings Yiddish songs to life in an immersive show that will both challenge and entertain.

Krape explained that the performance at In One Voice will just be “a teaser of a few songs”, saying that people will have to come along to the show to see and experience the whole performance.

“What we’re creating can really only be seen inside,” she said. “It’s a deeper exploration of what it means to be a Jewish female, to explore ideas that are quite complex and to explore, in a contemporary sense, what is happening for both men and women.”

For Krape, In One Voice is a “joy” and a “celebration”, allowing her and the Yiddish Divas to showcase Yiddish culture.

“[It] has garnered enormous interest right across the Yiddish-speaking sector and the Jewish sector who haven’t necessarily engaged with their Yiddish roots but are starting to do so because they’re hearing it,” she said. “And non-Jewish audiences are coming and enjoying it too, and identifying with a lot of the ideas because a lot of our work is very contemporary. And it’s meaningful.”

Also featured at this year’s festival are artists in action, Zac Chester, Jennifer Hopper, Sossy Kinderman and Gayle Sachs.

Chester’s artwork is known for its vibrancy, always evoking a sense of joy and happiness. It’s something that will be on show as he creates an artwork in real time.

Sachs said it’s exciting to be taking part. “My work is strongly influenced by my identity as a Jewish Melburnian,” she told The AJN.

“My family history of migrations in the Diaspora and re-establishing identity in a new country informs the content behind many of my paintings. The series entitled Evidence … was inspired by using thousands of fragments from a document shredder as a metaphor for identity protection. The theme will hopefully resonate with Australian Jewry and all migrants generally.”

Sachs said she believes the ‘working in action’ format will help engage the viewer in a more tactile way. “I’m hoping it will inspire others to pick up whatever materials that may be accessible to them and play around with connecting their eyes and hands to what they feel.”

This is a theme that Chrapot said runs through the festival.

“It’s a prime example of multiculturalism at work,” she said. “Jewish people have been living in Australia since the First Fleet, and [the festival] shows the evolution of a community within what is truly a multicultural setting.

“It’s a Jewish cultural festival that unites not only the Jewish community, but exhibits what the Jewish community contributes to the wider community.”

In One Voice is on Sunday, March 19 in Elsternwick.

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