JMS students held history in their hands as they played violins and a cello from the Violins of Hope collection, currently in the Pittsburgh community. These same violins were also played by musicians during the Holocaust and each refurbished instrument has an emotional story tucked inside its case. Six 8th-grade orchestra students, along with their orchestra and band teacher, played carefully chosen musical pieces after hearing a presentation on the holocaust, the violins, and the luthiers (violin makers) who are preserving these instruments.
Following the presentation, each student stood up and read the story about their instrument at an assembly for all 8th graders. They then played the following pieces: the Hava Nagila, Hatikvah, and Freylekhs. This was followed by a duet titled Shalom Chaverim played by the orchestra teacher, Sarah Bitsko, and band teacher, Krista Wagner. Bitsko then played a solo piece on the cello. The music ended with a solo of the Theme from Schindler's List, played by student Evgenii Matros, who was accompanied on the piano by his mother.
The other 8th-grade students who played were Zarina Azzam, Courtney Loughney, Katerina Sacco, Gokul Krishnan, and Izzy Dowiak. Lucia Long helped with the telling of the stories. Prior to the concert, all 8th-grade students were given a mini-lesson to prepare for the event that was put together by the organizer of the Violins of Hope, Greater Pittsburgh. Lynn Zelenski, project manager for the group, supplied the instruments and led the presentation.
The event at JMS was organized by teachers Kathryn Duchin and Sarah Bitsko.