Amnon Weinstein, Co-Founder, “Violins of Hope”
Amnon Weinstein has spent the last two decades locating and restoring violins that were played by
Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. He dedicates this important work to 400 relatives he never
knew. These grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins stayed behind in Eastern Europe when Amnon’s
parents, Moshe and Golda, immigrated in 1938 to Palestine, where Moshe opened a violin shop. After
the war, Moshe learned that his entire family—400 in all—had been murdered during the Holocaust.
The pain of this discovery led to his first heart attack. Moshe never spoke of his family again. When
young Amnon would ask Golda about their relatives, she would show him a book about the Holocaust.
Pointing to the ghastly photos of the dead, she would say, “This is our family.” She would break down in
tears, unable to explain further.
Following his father’s work as a master luthier, Amnon has become one of the most respected violin
makers in the world today. Determined to claim his lost heritage he put out a call for violins that were
played by Jews in the camps and ghettos, painstakingly piecing them back together so they could be
brought back to life on the concert stage. He calls these instruments the Violins of Hope.
In some cases, the ability to play the violin spared Jewish musicians from more grueling labors or even
death. Nearly fifty years ago, Amnon heard such a story from a woman who brought an instrument into
his shop for restoration. The woman’s father survived the Holocaust because his job was to play the
violin while Nazi soldiers marched others to their deaths. When Weinstein opened the violin, he saw
ashes that had collected there from playing in close proximity to the crematorium. He thought of his
own relatives who had perished and knew that this would become his life’s work. Although most of the
musicians who originally played the instruments were silenced by the Holocaust, their voices and spirits
live on through the violins that Amnon, and now his son, Avshalom, have restored. These are the Violins