‘Violins of Hope’ wins award

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 18, 2015

“Violins of Hope,” by James Grymes, has earned a National Jewish Book Award, considered the most prestigious honor in the country for Jewish-themed books.

Grymes is the department of music chair at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

One of the 18 Violins of Hope appeared in Salisbury in April 2012 thanks to a special arrangement with the Salisbury Rowan Symphony Guild. The guild also sponsored a bus trip to Charlotte to see the full performance with violinist Shlomo Mintz. Joining him in the program was master violin maker Ammon Weinstein, who resotored the violins.

A stirring testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of music, “Violins of Hope” tells the remarkable stories of violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust and of the Israeli violinmaker (Weinstein) dedicated to bringing these inspirational instruments back to life.

Grymes was inspired to write “Violins of Hope” when the College of Arts and Architecture brought 18 of the instruments to Charlotte for a series of exhibitions, performances, lectures and films in 2012. This was the only time the “Violins of Hope” have appeared in the Western hemisphere.

Awarded annually by the Jewish Book Council since 1950, National Jewish Book Awards are conferred on books of significant merit in more than 18 Jewish-themed categories. “Violins of Hope” is the 2014 winner for books about the Holocaust.

“This book was selected out of many submissions after careful analysis by a panel of three judges who are all authorities in their field,” wrote Secretary of the Jewish Book Council Mimi Frank. “It was chosen as the best written, most comprehensive and engaging book in its category.”

As a recipient of a National Jewish Book Award, “Violins of Hope” now joins the ranks of the most respected and influential works of Judaica, including books by Philip Roth, Elie Wiesel and Jonathan Safran Foer.

In addition to the National Jewish Book Award, “Violins of Hope” has earned tremendous praise from critics and readers alike.

Composer John Williams called it “a work of research and scholarship that forms one of the most moving chronicles in the history of Western music.”

William Shulman, the president of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, recommended it to the members of his organization by writing, “Of all the books on the Holocaust I have read recently, the one that is the most readable and, indeed, uplifting is ‘Violins of Hope.’”