Founder of Violins of Hope Amnon Weinstein Receives French Legion of Honor
The respected Tel Aviv luthier Amnon Weinstein, who repairs and restores violins that were damaged during the Holocaust, has received one of France's highest honors for his work.
Eric Danon, the French ambassador to Israel, visited Weinstein's workshop in celebration of the award, which was established by Napoleon in 1802.
Though Weinstein himself is slightly too young to have any memories of the Holocaust, the collective memory of the horrors inflicted during that time runs deep through his family.
Weinstein's parents, Moshe and Golda, arrived in Palestine from Poland in 1938. While they did not know it at the time, they were to be the only members of the family who did not perish in the Holocaust.
Weinstein grew up in Moshe's violin shop, and followed in his father's footsteps, training as a luthier in Cremona and Paris. He first made Holocaust-damaged instruments his focus when a violinist who had been held in Auschwitz approached him in the late 1980s, asking if anything could be done for his instrument.
Since that time, Weinstein has restored approximately 120 violins as part of the Violins of Hope project. He says that his restoration work allows long-dead violinists to speak through their instruments, which often arrive broken, cracked, or covered in dirt.
"When I receive the violins, I try to put my emotions aside, but when I hear their story, it's amazing, sometimes I can't even touch them," said Weinstein of his work. "For me, the most important thing is when the violin is finished and it is played again for the first time."
"Although today I am used to it, it is something that impresses me every time," he added. "It is crucial that these violins speak for six million Jews: never forget."
You can read more about Weinstein and his work on the Violins of Hope website.