Organizers of Violins of Hope Greater Pittsburgh Share about its Roots
Violins of Hope Greater Pittsburgh, organized by co-chairs Sandra Rosen and Patricia Siger and project manager Lynn Zelenski, will bring together the arts, religious institutions, community organizations, education professionals, and musicians to focus on the diversity, equity, and inclusion in Pittsburgh, a city that has experienced the deadliest antisemitic attack in the nation's history.
Pat Siger, board member, Chair of Health Careers Futures and former Chair of JHF and Sandy Rosen began working on the project in the spring of 2018, knowing it would be a powerful experience for the community. The plans were set in motion before the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, the nationwide escalation of antisemitism and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these events furthered their resolve to bring Violins of Hope to Pittsburgh.
The Violins of Hope collection is a collection of Holocaust-related string instruments that serve to educate and memorialize the lives of prisoners in concentration camps. The violins are featured through concerts, exhibitions, and other projects. Rosen was a docent for the Violins of Hope exhibit in Phoenix, Ariz., where Siger also spends part of the winter, and its effect inspired her to organize a Pittsburgh showing.
"When I experienced it, you saw it touch the hearts of children and adults. When 10/27 happened, it just underscored the importance to have this kind of conversation. The Pittsburgh community has embraced it with such enthusiasm and so much energy," said Rosen. The show will bring together 50 community partners. JHF was an early funder of the exhibition, donating $50,000.
The exhibit will be held October 7 through November 21 in Posner Center at Carnegie Mellon University. The event is free and open to the public; however, tickets are required to enter.
This landmark community project Violins of Hope Greater Pittsburgh's programming will reinforce valuable lessons of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through educational and cultural exhibits over the two months, this unique project will deploy lessons of the Holocaust to demonstrate humanity's amazing ability to rebound from even the darkest depravity. The centerpiece of this event is the Violins of Hope Exhibit, showcasing violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. Each instrument has a unique history that tells an emotional story of hope and perseverance.
One of the main goals of Violins of Hope Greater Pittsburgh is to educate both young and old in the community by using stories from the past to shed light on the future. A special emphasis will be placed on comprehensive in-school programming for middle- and high-school students. Group tours will be available, and time will be set aside for school group tours.
"We are all human beings. We share the same emotions – we love, we hate, we celebrate, we fear, we conquer. Nevertheless, if we don't recognize that we're all the same, then we can be overtaken by hate, which is insidious, poisonous, and dangerous," Siger said.
For more information about Violins of Hope Greater Pittsburgh, including volunteer opportunities and program updates, visit violinsofhopepittsburgh.com.