Letters to Afar: Oct 22, 2014 - Mar 22, 2015

Co-presented by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Letters to Afar: By Péter Forgács, music by the Klezmatics is an immersive video art installation based on home movies made by New York City’s Jewish immigrants who traveled back to visit Poland during the 1920s and 30s. The films document poignant family reunions and everyday life in small towns in the years before the Second World War, capturing a culture on the brink.

The installation was created by Hungarian artist Péter Forgács, under a commission by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. With a haunting soundtrack by the New York-based band The Klezmatics, these “letters” bring to life a lost world in startling and moving detail.

The exhibition is made possible with generous support from:

The Kronhill Pletka Foundation
Righteous Persons Foundation
Seedlings Foundation
Sigmund Rolat

Additional support is provided by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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With a haunting soundtrack by the New York-based band The Klezmatics, filmmaker Péter Forgács's “letters” bring to life a lost world in startling and moving detail.

Free Guided Tours

Join us on Sundays for guided tours of the exhibition, free with Museum admission. The tours will take place every Sunday at 1:00 pm, beginning December 7, for the duration of the exhibition. Space is limited and is first-come first-served.

Public Programs

Live from the Gallery: The Klezmatics Play Letters to Afar
Monday, January 12 at 6:30 pm
Join us for an extraordinary opportunity to experience Letters to Afar with live music by the Grammy Award-winning, New York-based Klezmatics.

Behind the Lens: New York Jews between the Wars
Wednesday, January 21 at 7:00 pm
Join us for a panel exploring new research about New York’s Jewish population in the 1920s and 1930s, as four historians share their latest work.

Family Programs

Family Ties
Sunday, December 21 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Make a picture frame for a loved one and enjoy a jelly doughnut to celebrate Hanukkah.

Educator Programs

Educator Workshop: Letters to Afar: Full-Day Workshop with Facing History and Ourselves
Wednesday, January 14 from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Join Museum staff and Facing History and Ourselves to explore these questions while considering the historical and contemporary issues relating to immigration and identity in the United States.


  • "Precious Windows on a Vanished World" New York Times
  • "Péter Forgács’ Memory Art Brings Phantoms of Eastern Europe to Light" Tablet
  • "In Hands of Hungarian Artist, Jewish Home Movies of the ’30s a Warning of Coming Holocaust" The Daily Beast
  • "New Film Exhibit Gives Moving Glimpse of Pre-WWII Jewish Poland" The Times of Israel
  • "A Monument to the World Before the Holocaust" The Jewish Daily Forward
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    James G. Dinan and Elizabeth R. Miller Gallery
    First Floor