Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
This past week Violins of Hope, which we have been hearing so much about for so long, began its eight weeks of programming. Though I read much of the materials and even appeared in promotional videos for the project, I realize that I did not fully understand the power of this amazing project until I attended BJE’s inaugural 2019 Passages program of Violins of Hope at Temple Chai this past Sunday night.
There, I met Amnon, Avshi and Assi Weinstein, who have spent decades finding and restoring violins of the Holocaust. I began to understand the power of the stories they have collected over all these years. For example, I had not connected the dots to realize that Assi’s father was one of the brothers whose story was told in the movie Defiance. Words fail to describe how I felt when I learned the stories of the violins and then heard the instruments played – their power as “witnesses” moved me.
This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tissa (When You Take) in Exodus. The Israelites panic when Moses is late to return with the Ten Commandments. In his absence, they create a golden calf to worship. This act is a reminder of what humans are capable of when we stray from our moral compass. More horrifically and recently in our history, the behavior of the Nazis and those who aligned with them during the Holocaust, is another example.
It is through the stories of Violins of Hope, witnesses to that horrific period of evil human behavior, that we remember the atrocities that can grow out of fear and prejudice, and that we need to teach our children to choose better, choose differently… to embrace differences among us and to live in harmony.
I hope to see many of you over the next month at some of these outstanding Violins of Hope programs.
Until then… Shabbat Shalom.
President & Chief Executive Officer
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