Fantastic Friday: Violins of Hope

I like to hoard “Fantastic Friday” ideas. Some I keep scrawled on notebook paper. Some I keep open as a tab in my browser. Sometimes I’m saving them for a particular anniversary or time of year. Other times, I’m saving them for a time when they are needed the most.

Each year, the anniversary of 9/11 hits me harder than I expect. A few years ago, though I didn’t consciously realize 9/11 was the following day, I was haunted by an extended dream in which I was living in a high-rise that was suddenly collapsing and on fire. When I woke, I realized what day it was. My feelings about 9/11 are complicated and not for this post. But it was on 9/11 this year that I sat down to flip through open tabs in my browser to see what uplifting message I could find for today’s post.

That’s when I remembered what I’d found. It’s a documentary called Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaustwhich chronicles Israeli violinmaker Amnon Weinstein, who took it upon himself to restore violins that once belonged to victims of the holocaust. It’s about an hour long, and it’s available to view for free at the above link.

The violin has been meaningful to me since I took it up in third grade. There was something about it. Yes, it is made of wood and strings, but in the right hands it seems to come alive. It cries, it sings, it dreams. The wood warms in the hand, and the music brings that warmth to the air. I recently bought a small violin for my daughter, who has been unnaturally drawn to my own full-sized one. So I can only imagine the impact of a violin on the morale of individuals and families during a time much less materialistic, when there were even fewer distractions.

The fact that Weinstein took the time to restore the violins, and the fact that people came together and performed with “voices” that were thought to be long gone transcends words. On a day when the media wanted to play up memories of 9/11 and when social media threats in my school district seemed to take advantage of people’s nerves, it was heartening to see that humanity can take something as horrific and unimaginable as the holocaust and turn it into something that can still warm the heart.

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