Celebrating the English-language publication of Efratia Gitai: Correspondence 1929–1994 (2020), MoMA presents a staged reading with the actors Marthe Keller and Ronald Guttman and pianist Edna Stern on March 5, as well as four fiction features by Efratia Gitai’s son, the Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai—including new digital restorations of Esther (1986) and Berlin-Jerusalem (1989).
Through her perceptive and intimate letters, which Efratia Gitai (1909–2002) wrote to her husband Munio Weinraub, the Bauhaus architect of many of Israel’s modernist buildings; to her parents, siblings, and children; and to her circle of intellectual friends, we witness the struggle and promise of Israel’s founding through the eyes of one of its women pioneers, as well as her growing sense of ambivalence and disillusionment across the decades of the 20th century. Born in 1909 in Palestine to Russian Zionist parents, Efratia Gitai was “the eldest daughter” of the Second Aliyah, the second generation of immigrants to move to the Holy Land, and learned modern Hebrew at an early age. Her family was peripatetic, and she often found herself an eyewitness to watershed moments: the Bolshevik Revolution; the cosmopolitanism of 1930s Vienna, where she studied psychology with Anna Freud; Hitler’s 1932 speech in Alexanderplatz; Churchill’s declaration of war as she fled by boat from Poland to Haifa; early experiments in kibbutz living; and the Six-Day War. Fiercely independent and committed to her family and friends, and to secular humanist education and Eretz Israel, she would later observe, “In the beautiful gallery of my life, I have encountered extraordinary people. Among them was a group of rare women with whom I forged deep friendships. I’ve always thought that societies that do not respect women are destined to extinction.”
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film. Thanks to Alessandro Cassin, Director of Publishing, Centro Primo Levi New York, and Rivka Gitai, editor of Efratia Gitai: Correspondence 1929–1994.