Violins of Hope Plays in Cook County
Cook County United Against Hate partners with JCC Chicago to bring opportunities to learn and experience the history of restored violins that survived the Holocaust
(COOK COUNTY, IL) - Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton, and President & CEO of JCC Chicago Addie Goodman today announced the arrival of Violins of Hope - Chicago, a six-month initiative showcasing 70 violins played by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust. The exhibition is coming to Cook County for the first time in partnership with Cook County United Against Hate.
“This initiative is a reminder of one of the darkest times in human history and the devastating consequences when hate is allowed to fester and grow,” said President Preckwinkle. “But it is also a reminder that the human spirit is stronger than those who wish to extinguish it, and ultimately good people of conscience must stand together to defeat hate. I am honored to be a part of today’s program to welcome Violins of Hope to our community. This is a powerful way to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that hate has no place in Cook County.”
Cook County launched the Cook County United Against Hate campaign in 2022 to address, educate and shine a light on efforts to fight hate. Through Violins of Hope, residents across the County will be able to experience - look, listen and play - the living history of hate, and the generations who stood up against it. The announcement, which took place at the Florence G. Heller JCC Early Childhood Center, included a special unboxing of one of the violins followed by a brief musical demonstration from violinist Jonah Kartman (Chicago Civic Orchestra member and student at the Depaul School of Music), unifying the past and present in a transformative display.
“As we celebrate Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Day of Remembrance, in less than a week, these Violins of Hope serve as a physical reminder of that horrific manifestation of hate, and how we have resiliently fought back against it,” said Commissioner Britton. “I am grateful to be partnering with JCC Chicago to amplify this transformative educational experience through our collaboration with Cook County United Against Hate. Through Violins of Hope, residents across the County will have the opportunity to connect with the histories of those who stood up against hate as we must continue to do.”
Violins of Hope will be performed on and/or exhibited at over 100 public and private events in partnership with symphonies, libraries, churches and synagogues, civic centers, and most importantly schools, from April through September, 2023. The Cook County exhibition is the largest residency for the initiative in terms of size, scope, and duration to date.
Israeli violin makers, Amnon and Avshalom (Avshi) Weinstein, have spent the last 20 years collecting and repairing these stringed instruments from around the world, some with the Star of David inlays and others with names and dates inscribed. They have identified and lovingly restored the violins to reclaim their heritage and share stories that illustrate the human experience of the Holocaust. Violins of Hope has traveled the globe, from Rome, Tel Aviv, Berlin, London, to Washington D.C., Sarasota, New York, Cleveland, Phoenix, San Francisco/East Bay, Los Angeles County, New Orleans, and now Chicago and across Illinois.
“JCC Chicago is bringing these Holocaust-era instruments and their stories directly to student spaces as an engaging, tangible, meaningful component of public schools Holocaust curriculum,” says Addie Goodman, President & CEO of JCC Chicago. “We are excited to partner with Cook County United Against Hate to strengthen Chicagoland’s resolve to fight hate. JCC Chicago’s mission of ‘growing good kids’ has instilled the kinds of values we all hope for in adults who will be leading our society and in the future. And with so many young people engaged in JCC Chicago programs, and bolstered by a strong suite of incredible partners and funders, we are poised to help ensure a world of acceptance, empathy, and upstanding.”
Also in attendance were Cook County Commissioner Frank J. Aguilar, Chair of the JCC Chicago Board of Directors David Nankin, Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Alison Pure-Slovin, and Cubs Charities’ Executive Director Alicia Gonzalez.
Cook County United Against Hate empowers everyone to stand against the rise in blatant acts of hate and champion efforts toward social justice. Launched in 2022, the initiative catalyzes education, legislation, and prosecution against hate, bigotry, and discrimination. The initiative creates visual, educational, and actionable ways to stand up against all forms of racism and bigotry: a pledge to denounce hate and affirm support for tolerance and justice; a downloadable symbol of unity, created to juxtapose symbols of hate that have proliferated online and off; and a growing library of resources to learn to proactively stand up against injustice and intolerance in all its forms. Through partnerships, Cook County United Against Hate is elevating and amplifying opportunities to learn and engage in social justice. To date, more than two dozen organizations have joined the Cook County United Against Hate coalition, including nonprofits, faith institutions, municipalities, and County Offices. To take action, download the symbol, and sign the pledge, individuals, groups, and communities are invited to visit: www.CookCountyUnitedAgainstHate.com.
JCC (Jewish Community Centers) Chicago, founded in 1903 and rooted in Jewish values, offers a life-affirming journey fostering a connected, inclusive community from birth through senior years. With a focus on growing good kids and building connections, it is JCC Chicago’s mission to strengthen the Jewish community, from generation to generation. Today, JCC Chicago serves a diverse population of 65,000 community members who learn, grow and thrive through early childhood, day and overnight camps, teen, adult and family offerings, fitness and wellness, and special events and happenings year-round. With headquarters in Northbrook, JCC Chicago has over a dozen facilities that serve the greater Chicagoland area including: seven Early Childhood Centers, nine Apachi Day Camp locations, Camp Chi Overnight Camp and Perlstein Retreat Center (located in Lake Delton, WI) and five Community Centers.
Bringing Violins of Hope to Illinois is made possible through funding from Front Row Sponsors: Jelmar, MacArthur Foundation, Pritzker Military Foundation on behalf of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, and The Walder Charitable Fund. The Opening Night Concert is being presented with generous support from the Zollie and Elaine Frank Music Fund at North Shore Congregation Israel. For more information on JCC Chicago programming and commitment to community visit, www.jccchicago.org.