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Hearing the Past. Listening for Our Future.

Violins of Hope hosted by JCC Chicago and other partner organizations is coming to Chicagoland and surrounding areas across Illinois from April through June 2023. The collection of more than 60 string instruments played by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust have been painstakingly restored and are now coming to our area for cultural exhibitions, performances, and community education with a message of hope, resistance, resilience, and unity.

About Violins of Hope

Israeli violinmakers, Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein, have spent the last 20 years collecting and repairing more than 60 Holocaust-era violins from around the world, some with the Star of David on the back and others with names and dates inscribed within the instrument. Together, they have lovingly located and restored the violins to reclaim their lost heritage, give voice to the victims and reinforce essential messages of hope, harmony, and humanity.

violin makers

Violins of Hope has been featured in books, print, film and television. They have been used in lectures and educational programs worldwide, exhibited in museums, and have been triumphantly played in concert halls around the globe. Through performances, exhibitions, and educational series, the instruments have impacted and inspired hundreds of thousands of people of all ages.

The Violins have traveled to cities across the globe, including:

Rome (2014), Tel Aviv & Berlin (2015), Cleveland (2015), London (2017), Washington D.C (2017), Sarasota (2017), Birmingham (2018), Fort Wayne (2019), Phoenix (2019), San Francisco/East Bay (2020, 2022), Los Angeles County (2020-21), Richmond (2021)

Violins of Hope: Chicago

JCC Chicago and its partners, including the Jewish United Fund, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, and others, aspire to reach over 100,000 community members of all races, religions, ages, and abilities.

JCC Chicago is working with premier cultural institutions around Chicago and Illinois to bolster the Violins’ residency from April to June 2023. The purpose of these residences and installations across cultural and educational organizations is to provide K-12 children, university students and the community at large with relevant, accessible Holocaust education anchored by the meaningful history of the instruments.

Beyond in-person events and experiences, the project will encompass an interactive website to ensure continued access and understanding of anti-hate messages conveyed through a virtual platform today in perpetuity.

jewish united fund jcc chicago illinois holocaust museum

Individual, Institutional Giving and Sponsorship Opportunities

A program the size and scope of Violins of Hope requires a dedicated group of community members who are inspired to donate resources—time, money, and energy—to its success. There are many ways to support Violins of Hope Chicago through leadership giving starting at the $2,500 level, including:

Sponsor a Public Musical Performance and Program
Sponsor a Private Musical Performance and Reception
Sponsorship of the interactive online education platform
Name a Violin (for both the Spring program and Fall installation)
Underwrite 10 field trips for public school students
Chair a Sub-Committee (Education, Exhibition, Performance, Promotion, Funding)
Join the Chicago Steering Committee

Beyond these individual leadership opportunities to sponsor individual programmatic elements, JCC Chicago offers a wide array of higher-level opportunities to support Violins of Hope. To support Violins of Hope or get more information on other ways to give, please contact Megan Abraham at or 224.406.9232.



The three-month exhibit will enhance Holocaust education, recognize tenets of strength, resiliency, and triumph, and connect individuals and communities in new, thoughtful, and meaningful ways. At a time when understanding and acceptance are paramount, Violins of Hope will forge relationships between institutions and people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds.

JCC Chicago is working with premier cultural institutions and educational organizations to support K-12 children and community education and learning. Beyond in-person events and experiences, people of all ages will have access to an interactive website complete with related film, videos, music, a virtual exhibit, and a downloadable educational curriculum, plus an opportunity to play the violins virtually.

Following the three-month traveling exhibit, a selection of the Violins of Hope will continue to be featured at an on-site exhibit from mid-May through September 2023 in partnership with the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Illinois became the first state in the country to mandate each public elementary school and high school to include in its curriculum a study of Holocaust history.

 — Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission


In November 1987, an outbreak of vandalism directed against Jewish stores and synagogues, prompted Erna I. Gans, Holocaust survivor and President of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, to issue a call for action. Gans and other survivors urged legislators to mandate the teaching of the Holocaust as state law.

Eventually, mandating Holocaust education, now known as House Bill 3, passed in both the House and Senate. Illinois became the first state in the country to require the teaching of the Holocaust in all public elementary and high schools, effective January 1, 1990.

In middle schools and high schools across the State of Illinois, Holocaust and Genocide education is now a state-mandated curriculum. Violins of Hope is a once-in-a-lifetime teaching tool for Illinois educators and JCC Chicago is committed to offering access to the exhibit and related curriculum to all 364 schools in Cook County and surrounding areas.


Violins of Hope Chicago Steering Committee
Laurie F. Lieberman and Marisa Mandrea, co-chairs
Past Chairs, JCC Chicago Board of Directors

To secure your sponsorship of Violins of Hope or if you’re interested in joining a subcommittee on Education, Exhibition, Performance, Promotion, or Funding, please contact Megan Abraham at or 224.406.9232.

For more information about Violins of Hope Chicago, you can watch our virtual kick-off meeting featuring founder Avshalom Weinstein.