Violins of Hope in the Ohio Valley

In October 2019, the Filson Historical Society joined with 30 community partners and venues to host a two-week visit in Louisville from the Violins of Hope. Created by Israeli father and son violin makers Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein, Violins of Hope  restores violins orphaned or confiscated from Jews throughout Europe during World War II and the Shoah (the Hebrew term for the Holocaust, meaning "catastrophe"). The instruments now travel the world, played and displayed in concerts, exhibits, and programs fostering education, and shared humanity through music appreciation. Now, in June 2022, the Filson is proud to host a new chapter of the story: free public screenings of a new documentary on the Violins of Hope  in Louisville.  

Connecting the history of Kentucky and the Ohio Valley with the history of the Violins of Hope is challenging for one simple reason: while American Jews in this region have experienced antisemitism and exclusion, never have we experienced nearly the degree of dispossession and agony of Jews and other minority groups in Nazi Europe. Instead, our Violins of Hope stories offer a counternarrative to the grief and loss inherent in their European counterparts. These stories enable us to appreciate how classical music has brought comfort and cohesion to our communities.

Two stories from the Filson’s collections (one organizational and one personal) illuminate how in the same historical moment, Jewish musicians could be simultaneously suffering in one part of the world and thriving in another.



Abby Glogower, Curator of Jewish Collections