Violins of Hope in Long Beach

Paulette Matson

Chairman, Board of Directors

Kelly Lucera

President

A unique program of special interest to the Jewish community is coming to Long Beach this Spring.  There will be several opportunities to see and hear performances with and about these instruments that we would like to bring to the attention of NCJW members. Please click on the link and try to attend some of these events, including the Arlene Solomon Visions Dinner on March 5. You will be touched and thrilled by the commitment and dedication that resulted in the survival and restoration of these instruments that survived the Holocaust.

Violins of Hope Los Angeles County - 2020

Summary: The Violins of Hope are a collection of restored instruments played by Jewish musicians during The Holocaust. These instruments have survived concentration camps, pogroms and many long journeys to tell remarkable stories of injustice, suffering, resilience and survival. Long Beach Symphony is bringing the Violins of Hope to our community to facilitate a regional dialogue about music, art, social justice and free expression. Twelve violins, one viola and one cello will be played my Symphony musicians or displayed throughout the week.

History: Approximately 60 instruments, including one viola and one cello, have been painstakingly restored by Amnon Weinstein, a second-generation violin-maker, and serve as testaments to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of music to lift hears in even the most horrific of circumstances.  For Jews enduring utter despair and unimaginable evil during the Holocaust, music offered haven and humanity. The strains of a beloved song supplied solace, even if only for a few moments. The chords also provided a vital reminder that even the most brutal regime could not rob them of their faith. No matter what, their souls could be free.

In some cases, the ability to play the violin spared Jewish musicians from more grueling labors or even death. Nearly 50 years ago, Amnon Weinstein heard such a story from a customer who brought in an instrument for restoration. The customer survived the Holocaust because his job was to play the violin while Nazi soldiers marched others to their deaths. When Weinstein opened the violin’s case, he saw ashes. He thought of his own relatives, 300 of whom had perished, and was overwhelmed. He could not bring himself to begin the project.  By 1996, Weinstein was ready. He put out a call for violins from the Holocaust that he would restore in hopes that the instruments would sound again, giving a voice to the voiceless.

The Violins of Hope now serve to educate and memorialize the lives of prisoners in concentration camps through concerts, exhibitions and other projects. The collection is owned by father and son team Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein, who are both violin makers and now reside in Tel Aviv.

The Long Beach Symphony is partnering with dozens of individuals and organizations on a community-wide series of events around these instruments, highlighted by an exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. The sound, presence and stories of these instruments will drive the creation of music, public conversation, interfaith dialogue, readings and educational activities throughout Long Beach.

2020 Violins of Hope Los Angeles County (Long Beach events in blue)

March 5: The Arlene Solomon Visions Dinner, Jewish Long Beach, Susanne Reyto, Speaker

March 22: Los Angeles Jewish Symphony at The Soraya

March 26: Rotterdam Philharmonic at The Soraya

March 29: Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre

April 5: The Jerusalem Quartet at The Soraya

April 18: New West Symphony – Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

April 19: Community Yom HaShoah Observance, Alpert JCC, Niv Ashkenazi, Performer

April 6 – 19: Instruments on display at the L.A. Museum of the Holocaust

April 20: Violins of Hope arrive in Long Beach

April 21: Luncheon for area Holocaust survivors, AJCC

April 21: Stories of Hope at the Aquarium of the Pacific

April 21 – 25: Educational presentations at area schools and universities

April 25: Violins of Hope at the Terrace Theater

April 26: Voices of Hope at First Congregational Church of Long Beach

April 27: Violins of Hope depart Long Beach

Violins of Hope Long Beach Artistic, Education & Community Partners

Susanne Reyto, Chair, Violins of Hope Los Angeles County

Avshi Weinstein, owner, Violins of Hope

James Grymes, author, Violins of Hope

Niv Ashkenazi, violinist, educator and presenter, Violins of Hope

Deborah Goldfarb, Liaison, Jewish Community

Long Beach Unified School District

California State University, L.B.  - Jewish Studies, Music, and History departments

Beach Hillel

Jewish Long Beach

Alpert Jewish Community Center of Long Beach

National Council of Jewish Women

Jewish Family and Children’s Services

Temple Israel of Long Beach

Temple Beth Shalom

Temple Beth Ohr

Temple Ner Tamid of Downey

Chabad of Los Alamitos and Cypress

Congregation Shir Chadash

Beth David

Congregation Sholom of Leisure World, Seal Beach

Congregation Lubavitch

Shul by the Shore

Hebrew Academy

First Congregational Church of Long Beach

NAACP

California Conference for Equality and Justice

City of Long Beach Human Relations Commission

Camerata Singers of Long Beach

Long Beach Chorale

Aquarium of the Pacific