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.

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

Coming of Age in Poland: Jewish Life Stories from the 1930s
Wednesday, December 3 at 7:00 pm
Discover the rich, complex lives of this singular generation through a presentation of excerpts from a 1930s series of autobiography contests held for Jewish youth.

Educator Programs

Free Educator Open House: Letters to Afar: By Péter Forgács, Music by The Klezmatics
Wednesday, November 19 from 5:00 - 6:30 pm
Experience this immersive video art installation co-presented by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, depicting Jewish immigrants returning to their homes in Poland to visit their families in the 1920s and 30s.

Letters to Afar: Educator and Family Receptions
December 1 or December 15, 4:30 – 6:30 pm
Educators and families are invited to join Museum staff and Jewish education colleagues for a special afterschool kosher reception to celebrate this new exhibition. The reception will feature guided tours, and information about future programming for students, teachers, and families.
For more information and to RSVP for this event contact: ezipris@mcny.org

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.

View Video

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.


  • "Precious Windows on a Vanished World" New York Times
  • "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
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    James G. Dinan and Elizabeth R. Miller Gallery
    First Floor