Gail Borden Library Honors “Violins of Hope” with Special Programs

by Madonna

The haunting melodies of resilience and survival during World War II find an evocative tribute at the Gail Borden Public Library. Amidst the shelves of knowledge, the library commemorates the extraordinary exhibit, “Violins of Hope,” which tells the poignant tales of 10 violins played by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust. These instruments, bearing witness to the power of music in the darkest of times, are on display until September 15th.

Each violin carries a story that resonates with the indomitable spirit of its player. From the strains of music played within the confines of Auschwitz’s concentration camp to the courage of those who risked their lives to protect Jewish individuals and families from the Nazis, the “Violins of Hope” exhibit unfolds on the library’s second floor, at 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.


Originating as a heartfelt project by the Weinstein family of Israel, the “Violins of Hope” initiative encompasses a collection of over 100 instruments that once echoed in the midst of the Holocaust. These violins, graciously contributed by Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as procured by the Weinsteins themselves, now stand as testimonials to the strength of the human spirit.


Among the remarkable instruments showcased, the Silberstein violin takes its place. This violin reverberated within the Alma Rosé’s Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, encapsulating the story of Violette Jacquet-Silberstein. The violin’s journey to the collection in 2022 was marked by the family’s dedication, honoring her survival through acceptance into the orchestra.


Feivel Wininger’s violin, an instrument that once accompanied a gifted child violinist, weaves a narrative of support. This violin not only sustained Feivel Wininger but also provided for his family and 17 others through performances at special events. The Vanderveen violin, played and owned by Joyce Vanderveen, stands as a symbol of liberation. Fleeing the Nazis on a bicycle, she transcended adversity to become a luminary in the world of ballet and cinema.

As a companion to the exhibit, the library hosts two compelling programs. “The Suitcase: Violins of Hope” presents Tim Lorsch’s poignant exploration of his family’s journey before, during, and after the Holocaust. This narrative of refugees, community, and survival will unfold from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 7th, in the main library’s Meadows Community Rooms.

On Wednesday, September 13th, the library is graced by a unique auditory collaboration. The Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s string quartet pays homage to the extraordinary “Violins of Hope” exhibit with a performance from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Meadows Community Rooms. This captivating rendition becomes an ode to the enduring power of music in the face of adversity.

The “Violins of Hope” exhibit and its accompanying programs serve as a poignant reminder of the enduring connection between music, resilience, and the triumph of the human spirit.


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