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Notes of Life

For many generations the violin was a prominent instrument in Jewish life.  The sounds of the violin could be heard in Jewish communities in the Diaspora on holidays and at celebrations and during times of crisis and misery, arousing feelings of joy and sorrow, longing and hope.

Shalom Aleichem in his writing accurately described the admiration for the violin in Jewish culture:

A person’s heart – and a Jewish heart in particular – can be compared to a violin. When you touch its strings, you immediately draw sounds out of it, most of them emotional, full of held back tears. You need nothing more than the skilled hand of an artist.” 
                                                                                         (Stempenyu: A Jewish Romance, 1913)

During the Holocaust music played a valuable role: upholding the spirit of the Jews in the ghettos and camps, helping them to forget their daily troubles, strengthening their ability to overcome and carry on, and becoming a source for fighting, survival and rescue. Violinists continued playing as long as they could, and for a short time were able to forget the pain and death around them. When they could not play the violin they played it in their imagination, and the sounds filled them with feelings of faith and hope for a better future.

Jewish children who started playing the violin when they were young continued to play during the war if they were very talented and luck was on their side.

Mottele, Noah, Feivel, Yochanan and Avraham were young musicians for whom the violin was a world in itself.

Here at Yad LaYeled we tell the story of these youngsters, who were wonderful musicians and for whom the sound of the strings was a source of physical and spiritual existence at times of crisis and destruction.

Miryami Shneior - Curator


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