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Two programs to commemorate the 'Violins of Hope' on exhibit at Gail Borden Library

Jun 19, 2024Jun 19, 2024

The "Violins of Hope" on display through Sept. 15 at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin tell the stories of the Jewish musicians who played the violins before and during the Holocaust. Courtesy of Gail Borden Public Library

One violin was played by a prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp, one by a former gifted child violinist and another by a world-renowned ballerina and actress. Their life stories vary but they have one thing in common -- all played the violin during World War II to stay alive.

Their violins are among 10 played by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust that are on display at Gail Borden Public Library through Sept. 15.

The "Violins of Hope" exhibit, telling the stories of the violinists as well as those who risked their lives to save Jewish individuals and families from the Nazis, is located on the second floor of the main library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.

"Violins of Hope" is a project established by the Weinstein family of Israel. More than 100 instruments played during the Holocaust are in the collection. The violins were donated by Holocaust survivors or their families, or purchased by the Weinsteins.

The instruments on display are a part of the second set of violins that has been at the library.

Currently on display at the library is the Silberstein violin played by Violette Jacquet-Silberstein. She played in Alma Rosé's Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz. This violin became part of the collection in 2022, when the family honored the project with her story of survival based on being accepted into the orchestra.

The Feivel Wininger Violin supported not only former gifted child violinist Feivel Wininger but also his family and 17 other people when he earned money performing at special events. The Vanderveen violin was played and owned by Joyce Vanderveen, who fled the Nazis on bike. She became the star of the Royal Netherlands Ballet and the Monte Carlo Ballet. She also starred in many television shows and movies, including The Ten Commandments.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Seigle Foundation and the Palmer Foundation and is hosted by the Jewish Community Center of Chicago and other partner organizations. For more information, visit

The following "Violins of Hope" programs will take place in September. To register, go to, call (847) 429-4597 or register in person at any library branch.

In "The Suitcase: Violins of Hope," Tim Lorsch will share his family's experiences before, during and after the Holocaust in this story of refugees, community and survival from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7, in the main library Meadows Community Rooms.

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, enjoy a "Sound Collaboration: ESO String Quartet & GBPL Commemorate Violins of Hope." The Elgin Symphony Orchestra string quartet will commemorate the extraordinary Violins of Hope exhibit with a performance from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Meadows Community Rooms.