Today, November 11 is Remembrance Day . Throughout the British Commonwealth we wear a red remembrance poppy. Memorial ceremonies are conducted to memorialize the fallen soldiers of World War II and the present; and to honour the heroes in the armed forces who still put their lives at risk to ensure democracy and freedom.
Heroes come in many guises. One such hero was Bronisław Huberman. Huberman was a child prodigy who amazed the world. At the age of 9 he played Brahms’ complicated concerto for violin – in front of the composer himself.
Huberman went on to be hailed as the world’s greatest violinist. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 Huberman foresaw the horror awaiting Jews. He went to Palestine and decided to create a national symphony orchestra made up of the best Jewish musicians in Europe. Between 1933 and 1936 he hired 70 musicians, bringing them AND their families to Palestine. All told, he saved at least 800 Jews from death. The inaugural concert of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (then known as the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra ) was in 1936, conducted by Arturo Toscanini.
Huberman played a Stradivarius which was stolen from Carnegie Hall in 1936. Huberman died in 1947 and the violin was relinquished in 1987. Fifteen years after that violinist Joshua Bell bought it for close to 4 million dollars.
Huberman’s story is told in the movie, Roy Mandel: The Return of the Violin – YouTube . It is an incredible, moving film weaving together the lives of Huberman and another great man, Sigmund Rolat. Rolat and Huberman were both born in Częstochowa, Poland. Both men are heroes. Huberman saved hundreds of lives and built a symphony orchestra. Rolat, a survivor, has created cultural festivals, educational programmes, created employment and breathed new life into Germany and Poland.
The message from this extraordinary movie resonates with the message of Remembrance Day. Each of us has the ability to make the world a better place. To make the world a better place we have to remember the past and recognize the present. Beautifying the world with music, art, good deeds and helping those around us will help create a better reality. Each of us can use our resources and our awareness to right a wrong whether it is big or small.
One last thing-here is a reflection written by my Uncle Mort Lightstone on his career in the RCAF. Follow this link: 2015 – Remembrance Day .
Have a wonderful day, and let’s make the world a better place.