Violins Of Hope: Instruments From The Holocaust Travel To Benjamin Hall

Tel Aviv violin maker Amnon Weinstein spent two decades gathering the broken pieces of string instruments from the Holocaust and World War II - instruments that outlived the musicians who played them.

Weinstein and his son Avshalom have carried the weight of these stringed instruments and the people who cherished them, dedicating their time to Violins of Hope, a traveling project that showcases their collection of more than 60 restored violins, violas, and cellos. 

On the morning of December 3, The Benjamin School community was afforded the rare opportunity to see the traveling exhibit and accompanying musical performance in Benjamin Hall. 

The event, generously underwritten by the Atkins family, featured world-famous violinist Gary Levinson, Sr., Principal Associate Concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony, conducting the concert with members of the New World Symphony. 

“Our message is that this is not a historical thing. This is a real thing. It’s something that’s out there today. These violins represent the ability of men and women to overcome discrimination and death,” said Levinson.

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The concert, featuring five sacred string instruments, represented the victory of the human spirit over hatred.

“The violins you will hear today have borne witness to the Holocaust and to the very worst of what humans can do to one another. Each of these instruments has its own uniquely tragic - and more importantly uniquely inspiring - story to tell,” said Head of Upper School Fletcher Carr during his opening remarks.
“History, as some of you know, can often be seen on perhaps too large a level - a mass of facts and timelines and can overwhelm us. But history is nothing more than the sum total of millions of small stories out of which emerges our collective story,” said Carr.

Carr said that often times seeing the one story is enough to teach us the overarching “big” story. Students in both the Upper and Middle school, faculty, and friends saw these pieces of living history represented in both the Violins of Hope collection and in special guest Mr. Aron Bell, who survived the Holocaust.  

Mr. Bell helped 1,200 jews escape from Nazi Germany. His story was told in the feature film Defiance and the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec. Bell received a standing ovation from the standing-room only audience in Benjamin Hall.

Caroline Moody, president of the Jewish Student Union, spoke on behalf of the organization. 

“As their melodies fill this hall think of the 3.5 million Jewish men, women and children who needed this music to survive. But also think of the 6 million Jews and 11 million others who will never dance to these harmonies again. I don’t intend to sadden you with these words, but rather, the opposite. I wish only to remind you all and myself to be eternally grateful for when and where we were born,” said Moody.


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