Violins of Hope, a project of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, Genocide Education Program
Violins of Hope tells the remarkable stories of violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. Today these instruments serve not only as powerful reminders of an unimaginable experience but also reinforce key lessons of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity that are pertinent now as well as for future generations.
Israeli violinmaker, Amnon Weinstein, has devoted the last 20 years to locating and restoring the violins of the Holocaust as a tribute to those who were lost, including 400 of his own relatives. He calls these the Violins of Hope.Mr. Weinstein has restored over 60 violins as a way to reclaim his lost heritage, give a voice to the victims, and reinforce positive messages of hope and harmony.
The Violins of Hope have been played in concert halls and exhibited in museums throughout the world. They have been featured in books, print, film and television. They have been used in lectures and educational programs and their stories and messages have impacted hundreds of thousands of individuals. We are now bringing this impactful program to Arizona in February-March 2019.
The 4-week program will feature:
Education programs for students grade 5 and higher for 18-24 schools throughout the Valley including Title I schools.
Free exhibition at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Two orchestral concerts featuring Grammy-award winning violinist Gil Shaham
Chamber concerts at various locations
Adult lecture series designed by ASU Schools of Jewish Studies and Music
Teacher training on the Holocaust by the Bureau of Jewish Education
Book signing and lecture by Violins of Hope author, James Grimes.
Providing education on the Holocaust and relating lessons of the past to present day is key to creating a future where tolerance, hope and peace are valued. Violins of Hope teaches about the Holocaust in a personal, relatable way through each violin’s story. Through concerts, museum exhibition and comprehensive education programs, children, adults, educators and seniors will learn, connect and understand more deeply the significance of the Holocaust, the lessons learned and how these lessons apply to our world today.
Violins of Hope will be one of the first broad-reaching programs in Maricopa County, reaching between 20,000 to 50,000 individuals of all ages and religious beliefs. It will also bring non-profit arts groups and other agencies together in a large-scale collaborative project.
What is the mission and purpose of this program?
To educate students
on the Holocaust by using the Violins of Hope stories and linking this period
of history to more recent Genocides happening in our world today to teach
lessons of tolerance, healing and inclusion. The mission and purpose of the
program is to demonstrate that this type of unimaginable behavior still exists
today and to use it as a powerful platform to launch meaningful conversations.
As a humanitarian aid worker Carl
Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the Spring of 1990. In 1994 when
extremist took over the government in Rwanda and started ordering ordinary
citizens to kill the “enemy”—their Tutsi neighbors—all foreign embassies
evacuated their respective citizens. However, a handful refused to leave, among
them one American—Carl Wilkens. His harrowing, yet hopeful journey weaves
together stories of tremendous risk and fierce compassion, in the midst of
the senseless slaughter.
Venturing out each day into streets
crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of
angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault
rifles in order to bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped
around the city. Working with Rwandan colleagues, they helped save the lives of
For more than a decade, Wilkens has
been sharing stories around the globe with schools and faith communities, as
well as civic and military groups. His storytelling does not stop with Rwanda’s
tragic history; it moves forward to the powerful and inspiring recovery
process. Among the many lessons he shares from his experience during and after
the Rwandan genocide is the transformative belief that we don’t have to be
defined by what we lost or our worst choices—we can be defined by what we do
with what remains, what we do next after terrible
The beneficiaries of this program
will be approximately 150 students in Jewish Schools in grades 6-12 who will
participate in an educational program scheduled for March 13, 2019 at the
Scottsdale Center for the Arts.
In every major city except Phoenix,
there is a Holocaust museum where people of all religions can go for education
and knowledge. In Arizona, there is no state standard for Holocaust education;
it is taught and studied from a historical perspective and the curriculum is
determined by the school/teacher. Providing education on the Holocaust and
relating lessons of the past to present day is key in creating a future where
tolerance, hope and peace are valued. Violins of Hope gives a voice to the
voiceless and teaches about the Holocaust in a personal, relatable way through
each violin’s story as well as through music.Through concerts, museum exhibition and comprehensive education
programs, children, adults, and seniors will learn, connect and comprehend more
deeply the significance of the Holocaust, lessons learned and how these lessons
apply to our world today.
This is a critical program given the
current resurgence of anti-Semitic and escalating hate crime activity in our
country today.According to the ADL, in
Arizona alone the number of hate crimes involving Jewish victims more than
tripled since 2015. The ADL only reports the numbers of people who have
directly contacted them, but statistics from the FBI also indicate the numbers
of hate crimes may be on the rise throughout Arizona. The numbers include hate
crimes related to race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and disability.
In 2014, there were 265 total hate crimes in Arizona. In 2015, there were 276
reported. In 2017, hate crimes jumped by nearly 20 percent in major U.S., after
increasing nationally by 5 percent last year, according to police data compiled
by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State
University at San Bernardino. According to this study, during 2017, hate crimes
in Arizona increased by 46%.
On the National level, the FBI Hate
Crimes Unit reported over 6,000 hate crimes in 2016, with 57.5% motivated by
race/ethnicity/ancestry bias and 21% prompted by religious bias. And, according
to a March 2017 report from the Anti-Defamation League, specific anti-Semitic
activities are escalating:
January 2017, there have been more than 140 bomb threats phoned and e-mailed to 110 Jewish community institutions,
including day schools, synagogues, JCCs and to ADL offices in Washington,
D.C., Boston, Atlanta, and New York City. These threats led to lockdowns
and evacuations in 36 states and two Canadian provinces.
the first two months of 2017, the New York City Police Department reported
a 110 percent increase in hate incidents, many of them against Jews and
cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia were desecrated by vandals who
toppled dozens of headstones.
the months prior to the presidential election there was an unprecedented surge of anti-Semitic tweets directed at Jewish
journalists, both liberal and conservative. There
was an estimated total of 2.6 million anti-Semitic tweets over a one-year
period, including nearly 20,000 harassing messages aimed at journalists.
regional offices in 26 cities around the nation are receiving increasing
numbers of calls and e-mails reporting a variety of anti-Semitic incidents
from swastikas on institutions to bullying of students in schools.
Violins of Hope will be a ground-breaking program in
our community with Jewish and non-Jewish organizations partnering together in
celebrating music, education, history and culture. It is a tremendous
opportunity to impact and connect with our community members and local
organizations to show unity in our shared values.
This is a new program and has not taken place yet within our
community. However, one of our key objectives is to fundraise to cover all
expenses associated with bringing the Violins of Hope to our community. To
date, we have raised approximately 2/3 of the total funds needed and our
particularly proud to have received significant support from individual and
major funders such as the Arizona Community Foundation, the Steel Foundation
and the Jewish Community Foundation.
How do you measure the success of your program?
We will measure success of this program by the number of
students attending the event and through surveys to collect feedback from both students