Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 8:33 AM

Day of Jewish Culture and Heritage in Europe

Day of Jewish Culture and Heritage in Europe

This year the Day of Jewish Culture and Heritage in Europe was observed in Zagreb with two exceptional events. They took place on Thursday, September 19, in the well-known cultural center of Gliptoteka and were organized by Jewish Community of Zagreb. What could represent Jewish culture better than fine arts and music. 

The evening was opened with an exhibition of paintings by the world known Croatian painter of Jewish origins, Zlatko Bourek. His life and oeuvre is a paradigm of Jewish culture in Europe, and therefore the best possible choice for the event that evokes the permanent presence of Jews in an overall European cultural profile. Zlatko Bourek was also a member of the Croatian Academy of Science and Fine Arts. The member of Croatian Academy of Science and Fine Arts, Mr. Tonko Maroević spoke about the life and work of Mr. Bourek to the large audience. 

Zlatko Bourek was a versatile artist who left a clear and everlasting mark in the cultures of Croatia, Europe and beyond. By education he was a sculptor, what he often liked to emphasize. Still, his artistic works are encompassed in numerous fields of fine arts. As a painter and graphic artist Bourek had numerous single exhibitions but also participated in the variety of thematic exhibitions in Europe and round the world. In film he directed a large number of them, mostly animated films, where he also wrote scripts. In the early fifties he co-founded a popular and in the world known Zagreb school of animated films. In theatres across Croatia and Europe he worked as a scenographer and costume designer and puppeteer. Bourek may be best remembered as the author of grotesque, surrealistic puppets and characters. The Stoppard´s play “15 Minutes Hamlet” was played with Bourek´s almost human size puppets, for which he became famous. Additionally, Zlatko Bourek took great interest in the Judaic culture and was considered to be a great expert in the field.

Zlatko Bourek was born in 1929 in Požega in a Jewish family and spent his adolescence in Slavonija – Eastern Croatia. Slavonija remained an everlasting muse of his artistic expression and figurative compositions. The period of the WWII when he experienced anti-Semitic pursuits as well as the experience from the Croatian War for Independence were strongly mirrored in the work of Bourek. As he would say: „If you are at all normal, you cannot write, compose or paint ignoring those wars“. Although famous and popular, Bourek remained easy and open, witty and genial until his death in 2018. 

The musical program of the evening was defined by the moto: „Music, the trail in Jewish history, the bridge between tradition, memories and faith- a dialog between the past and future“. The motto was nicely reflected in the program arrangements and the performances either played or sung or both. 

It was presented by the following works: 

  • David Meisel - Keduschah
  • Aron Marko Rothmüller - Tirsa Jaffa
  • F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy - Ich wollt’ meine Lieb’ ergoisse sich
  • Abendlied - Suleika i Hatem
  • Aron Marko Rothmüller - Mikol Hamudot
  • Aron Marko Rothmüller - Psalm 13
  • Židovska tradicionalna - Avinu Malkenu (ar. Marijan Mlakar)


The concert started with the temple music Keduscha, which is considered to be the oldest recorded composition of that type in Croatia. It symbolizes tolerance, a dialog among cultures on the territory of former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. 

The works of Mr. Rothmueller (Slavonski Brod 1908-Bloomington, USA 1993) are composed in oriental style and integrate the texts by Bialik clearly addressing the Zionistic ideas.

Bringing the works of Mendelssohn into the program spoke of the connection between the Jewish and European musical and literal traditions in the 19th century. The lyric duets of Mendelssohn set to music the poems of H. Heine and W. Goethe.

This lovely program was realized by Mrs. Arijana Gigliani Philipp, soprano, and Mr. Vitomir Marof, bariton, accompanied by the guest-artists Mr. Bruno Phillip on the clarinet and Mrs. Tamara Jurkić Sviben on the piano.

The program was defined by Mrs. Tamara Jurkić Sviben and the curator of Judaica in Jewish Community Zagreb, Mrs. Mira Wolf.

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