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Letters to Afar

Presented by YIVO and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco

Installation by Péter Forgács and The Klezmatics
Commissioned by POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
On view through May 24, 2015
The Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street (btwn. 3rd and 4th Streets), San Francisco, CA 94103

For hours of operation and tickets to the exhibition, visit here or call 415-655-7800.


Letters to Afar is an immersive video art installation based on home movies taken by New York City’s Jewish immigrants, who traveled back to visit Poland during the 1920s and 30s. Presenting poignant family reunions and everyday life in small towns, Letters transports the viewer to a world and culture on the brink.

Letters was created by award-winning Hungarian media artist Péter Forgács, based on a collection of home movies housed in YIVO’s archives, with an original score by The Klezmatics. It was commissioned by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw and the YIVO Institute and made possible with the generous support of the Kronhill Pletka Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Seedlings Foundation, Mr. Sigmund Rolat, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Press Coverage of Letters to Afar

Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco

Museum of the City of New York

  • Buffalo News, mention of Letters to Afar, Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film by Glenn Kurtz (January 25, 2015)
  • Financial Times, Letters to Afar, Museum of the City of New York, review (January 21, 2015)
  • New York Post, Professors finds long-lost home movies playing at NYC museum (January 12, 2015, picked up by New York Times: New York Today, translated into Dutch on The Post Online)
  • Jewish Image, photo and mention on the website (December 16, 2015)
  • The Jewish Daily Forward, The Women of ‘Letters to Afar’ (December 10, 2015)
  • The Jewish Daily Forward, A Monument to the World Before the Holocaust (November 28, 2014, also translated into Yiddish for the Forverts)
  • Tablet, Peter Forgacs Memory Art Brings Phantoms of Eastern Europe to Light (November 20, 2014, featured on homepage)
  • Times of Israel, New film exhibit gives moving glimpse of pre-WWII Jewish Poland (November 18, 2014, picked up by Kosher Press)
  • New Jersey Jewish News, Family’s archives offer window on the past (November 5, 2014)
  • Jewniverse, Heartbreaking Home Videos from the Old Country (October 30, 2014)
  • The Jewish Week, ‘This is About How Rich the Culture Was’ (October 28, 2014)
  • The Daily Beast, In Hands of Hungarian Artist, Jewish Home Movies of the 30s a Warning of Coming Holocaust (October 25, 2014)
  • The Jewish Week, Letters from Afar Close Up (October 23, 2014)>
POLIN - Museum of the History of Polish Jewish in Warsaw