PJCC Art Gallery Presents
This program is part of Violins of Hope San Francisco Bay Area, presented in association with Music at Kohl Mansion, Burlingame, CA.
There are those rare places that have an energy about them. You feel it when you enter. Words cannot help to define such places. Amnon, Avshalom and Moshe Weinsteins’ luthier workshop in Tel Aviv is such a place.
What is the cause? It is not solely due to their mission to find and restore as many violins that survived the Holocaust as is possible, even as most of their owners did not. Nor, is it due solely to one’s senses becoming charged upon entry, from the scent of fresh wood shavings, open stain canisters or varnish.
Might the cause be the visual potpourri that surrounds, the workshop’s guest… the inhabited-like violins; dismantled on their felt and wood platens, waiting for their next stage of restoration, the many that are hanging to dry, or those suspended to simply be kept safe from the potentially damaging workshop equipment? Some may see the holocaust violins as being representations of loss. I prefer to see them as phoenix-like, being readied to become triumphant.
There are the photographic portraits of the workshop, looking downward from high on the walls or peeking out from archival binders, each collected by Amnon over the decades. Portraits of Bronisław Huberman, Jascha Heifetz, Zino Francescatti, and others. There are the rare concert medallions piled into a corner, commemorating great performances from Israel’s years of its musical youth, and the clippings of appreciative violin master performer clients. There are the signs… through random books, card de’visite portraits and even a Hollywood movie poster, of Amnon’s wife Assi’s remarkable Bielski family history, a history that is legend among Jews world-wide.
Almost two years prior to the largest of the celebrations of the Violins of Hope coming to America, I was curious about more than the violins as objects, or as the vessels of their indescribable histories. Their remaining scratches and nicks should not be seen as wounds, as invariably many represent moments from living room performances in places such as Łódź, Prague or Vilnius, or from public recitals in Berlin or Vienna. These marks of “index” have meaning. Amnon often lovingly lets these remain during restorations, for their role is as critical as their strings.
Yet I was not simply interested in who could have had the expertise to restore such fragile instruments of spruce and maple, or in the person(s) who have such
skills who, by chance, live within the nation of the attics and closets of many of the surviving violins of the Holocaust.
What drove me to make this documentary was my interest in discovering who it was who encompassed all of this, in addition to their profound vision to recognize that, within a few fleeting years there would be no remaining survivors of the Holocaust. Yet through their restoration of these violins, and through the miracle of music and the brain’s response to it, the next generation has a chance to understand the incomprehensible through the visceral.
Daniel Levin, MFA
levinphoto.com | email@example.com
In addition to the PJCC Art Gallery’s current exhibit The Weinsteins’ Workshop: The Luthiers Who Restored the Violins of Hope, Photography by Daniel Levin,
the PJCC is proud to offer the following experiences in partnership with Violins of Hope San Francisco Bay Area.
Violins of Hope Founders Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein
Thursday, January 16 · 7:30 pm · New Location: Wornick Ulam Gadol
Youth Enrichment Class
Music Makers Grades 1–3
Mondays at 5:00 pm beginning January 27
TheatreWorks Presents: The Pianist of Willesden Lane
Sunday, January 26 · Mountain View Centre for Performing Arts
PJCC Jewish Book Club
Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust—Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour by James A. Grymes
Tuesday, January 28 · Classroom D · 10:30 am
Up Close Concert
Ariel Quartet: Violins of Hope
Saturday, February 15 · PJCC Lobby · 8:00 pm
Day Trip—Art Exhibit
Violins of Hope: A Journey of Heroism, Healing, and Humanity
Thursday, February 20 · Veterans Building, San Francisco
For more information, or to register, please visit the PJCC Welcome Center.
Bérénice 1934–44: An Actress in Occupied France
Monday, December 16 · Board Room· 2:00 pm
Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaust
Monday, December 30 · Board Room · 2:00 pm
2020 North Peninsula Jewish Community Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Michael Berenbaum
Not Your Father’s Antisemitism
Wednesday, January 8 · Wornick Jewish Day School Ulam Gadol · 7:30 pm
The PJCC is proud to be a part of the Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood presenting educational and cultural programs that explore Jewish heritage, identity, and community. This initiative is co-funded by the Koret Foundation and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture.
* This program is part of Violins of Hope San Francisco Bay Area presented in association with Music at Kohl Mansion, Burlingame, CA and is made possible by the Koret Taube Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood.