GRANADA HILLS, Calif. — There is so much emotion and history in these notes and in these hands.

Musician Niv Ashkenazi is the only person in North American who has one of the Violins of Hope on long-term loan.

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“It is a very special instrument to me and I’ve connected with it on a very deep level," he explained. “For me what I try to do is make sure that I put myself out of the way and allow the voice of the instrument to come through."

Violins of Hope is a collection of roughly 60 instruments that survived the Holocaust.


The violins have been painstakingly restored by father and son Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein at their small shop in Tel Aviv.

In March and April, many of these instruments will travel to Los Angeles for the first time.  Some will be displayed at the Museum of the Holocaust.  Others will be featured in various concert events, including a few at the Soraya in Northridge.  

Ashkenazi grew up in Northridge and for a time, Dr. Anthony Cantrell, the Director of Arts Education at the Soraya, was his teacher. Cantrell and Ashkenazi are taking the violin to more than 40 schools this year. 

They hope that by telling the stories of the violins and their owners, the students will gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust.

“We don’t want this story to feel like it’s just a historical record," Dr. Cantrell explained. "We want to make sure that some of the ideas that were responsible for the Holocaust would not survive today, so we need to make sure students appreciate those values of tolerance.”

“These are voices that were silenced," Ashkenazi said, "and this is a chance for their voices to be heard again and to tell the history in a different way and enrich the knowledge of these students hopefully.”

While some of the violins have a very detailed history, Ashkenazi says little is known about the owner of the one he plays.  For him, this instrument represents the millions of Holocaust victims who didn’t get to tell their story.

“This is our chance to allow these instruments to continue to speak, continue to have a voice, continue to tell their stories and spread their message around the world," he said.

A message of healing, tolerance and hope.

For more information on the Violins of Hope project and the concerts scheduled at the Soraya and other venues around Southern California this spring, click here.