A special day in Williamsburg that once again highlighted the importance of Bram’s violin

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My Uncle Bram Rodrugues, killed at the age of 18 in Auschwitz in 1943

As we continue to combine the story of a horrific time with a story that inspires on the highest level, it becomes more and more of an honor to be an avenue from whence this story is told.

On Sunday February 16, 2020, the violin that belonged to my Uncle Bram, a victim of the Holocaust, was played for the second time.  This time in Williamsburg, Virginia.  As the story gets more traction and the violin is shown and played for more people, the importance of what we are doing becomes more and more evident.  By inspiring people with music played from the violin, and telling the story of how the violin made it back to me and my family, we are doing our part in restoring people’s faith in humanity.

Williamsburg is a wonderful town.  In the few days I was there I was exposed to wonderful people who extended their hospitality, generosity and kindness.  The genuine interest in this story made everything about the trip worthwhile, even before the concert showcasing the violin ever took place. Yes anti-Semitism is on the rise and yes Holocaust denial is a very real problem, but for a few days in a small yet significant town in Virginia, my belief that we are closer to a good world than many might usually believe significantly increased.

As I spoke to the crowd, a crowd likely reaching close to 200 people, moments before the violin was played in a solo by the brilliant Ken Sarch, I saw the expressions on the people’s faces.  The people in the crowd, of which only a small percentage were Jewish, were not only engaged and interested, they were moved, saddened and inspired.  At times many would nod their heads in agreement to the points I would make about the importance of not only this specific story, but the importance of telling the world what took place in Europe between 1933 and 1945.

After the event one man told me how his father was German and was 16 when the war ended, and how he was ashamed of his German background, almost in tears when telling me.  One man who purchased the  book asked me to not make out the inscription to any one individual but to make it out to all the  good people of the world. I saw people in tears when I told the story, knowing that in some way they were understanding the devastation that took place in a way they had never been able to do prior to this day.

For me the most powerful moment of the day came following my presentation of the story when Ken took out the violin and played the music from Schindler’s list.  At the time he was doing this I looked out into the crowd to see how the people were reacting.  Throughout the crowd I saw intense emotion, tears and expressions of awe and inspiration, and as I saw this I not only thought of my uncle, I thought of my mother.  I often say that when my mother talked of the  war she was always sad.  When she spoke of her brother she always cried.  His death represented the horrors of the time, and as her son who loved her as all of her children did and still do, I feel an enormous responsibility in getting this right.  What I saw in  Williamsburg is that by just telling the story with honesty and passion, and having Bram’s violin played, the good people out there assure that this is being done right, for they not only observe it, they feel it as well.

I thank the people of Williamsburg for making this more than just a concert.  In their genuine and powerful collective show of emotion they showed me one more example of the goodness in humanity, and they showed me why more and more people need to get the same opportunity to be witness to something so powerful and important.

 

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