CHICAGO — For two decades, a father and son duo have quietly collected and repaired over 70 violins used by victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

“I opened the violin,” Amnon Weinstein said, recalling one of the violins he helped restore. “I remember black powder all on the inside from the crematorium and horrible places.”

Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein work on the violins in their workshops based in Tel Aviv and Istanbul, and this week, decades of painstaking work made its way to Chicago.

Velvet-lined cases containing string instruments that once nestled under the chins of people who used them to help tell their own stories through music, arrived in unassuming cardboard boxes, ripe to be played and for those stories to be told once more.

“It was a teary moment,” said Ilene Uhlmann, Director of Community Engagement at JCC Chicago. “Each one has an amazingly inspirational story, and they tell stories of hope, resilience and resistance.”

For the next six months, the violins that were restored by the Weinsteins will travel to concert halls, museums, schools and libraries across the state of Illinois. This week, five of them made their way to Deerfield High School, where orchestra students had the opportunity to run their bow across the strings.

Among the Deerfield students was Abby Izaks, who’s own great grandparents were among those held captive in concentration camps during World War Two.

“It was definitely really special for me because my great grandparents are Holocaust survivors,” Izaks said. “It was definitely an emotional experience. As I was playing … I definitely thought about all the people that came before me.”

In the audience while Izaks played was a man who survived the Holocaust as a young boy. He said he was there to pay tribute to others like him.

“I feel it’s important because people really don’t know what was going on,” said Eric Blaustein, Holocaust survivor. “You know the Holocaust was a story, but the Holocaust was really a horror.”

Just like the violins that took the stage, so did Blaustein to share his story.

“I started to wonder afterward why did I survive it,” Blaustein said. “I felt I owed something to the Jewish people.”

For more information behind the Weinsteins’ restoration project, you can visit Violins of Hope’s website. A list of dates and events where you can see and hear these instruments in person can be found on JCC Chicago’s website.