Hope in a Violin

Though the history of the Holocaust is well-known to many, the story behind the “Violins of Hope” is one that needs to be told again and again.

The violin has been an important participant in Jewish culture for centuries, both as a popular instrument with classical Jewish musicians (Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman) but also as a central factor of social life. That importance was magnified during the Holocaust.

Many of the Nazi concentration camps had inmate orchestras and for many of those imprisoned there, the thought that wherever there was a violin, there was hope, sustained them during that very dark time in world history.

Amnon Weinstein, an Israeli luthier, was approached in 1996 to restore a violin that had been played by a man interned in one of World War II’s concentration camps. Weinstein, whose parents had fled Europe in 1938 only to learn later of the death of more than 400 relatives, felt a connection to the violin. After he restored the first one he actively sought out other violins that had been played in the cams. There are now 30 violins that have been restored.

The Violins of Hope concert featuring 16 of the restored violins will be Saturday, January 28 at 8pm at Jacoby Hall. Amnon Weinstein will be in the audience to see the Jacksonville Symphony musicians make music on their restored instruments. The concert is part of the community initiative, Voices of Hope, that includes a month-long Anne Frank exhibit at MOSH and other community programs.

For tickets to the concert, click here.