The Board of the American Friends of POLIN Museum mourns the loss of Joe Feingold, who passed away on April 16, 2020. Joe was a benefactor of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. He made his gift unsolicited and anonymously, as was the way of this modest man.
Born Jozef Fajngold in Warsaw, March 23, 1923, Joe lived in Kielce from 1933-1939, survived Siberia labor camps, returned to Kielce after the war, and was the last living survivor of the Kielce pogrom, which broke out on July 4, 1946. In the United States, Joe became a successful architect. His autobiography, which he wrote more than thirty years ago, was published in 2017 as Joe’s Violin: A Survivor Remembers.
In 2014, Joe donated his violin to a New York City high school. That story is beautifully told in the short film, Joe’s Violin, which premiered in 2016 and was nominated for an Academy Award (watch the film here: Joe’s Violin) In the introduction to his memoir, Joe writes:
Zeilsheim Displaced Persons Camp, Winter, 1946. I never could have imagined that my choice in 1946 to purchase a violin instead of a winter coat, would change my life. But it did … When I spotted the violin, its dark red wood gleaming in the frozen sunshine, something in me stirred. I had to have it. I paid a German man for the violin in a simple barter … clutched my new instrument and walked past the stalls stacked with warm coats and fur hats. Holding it, the violin warmed my soul, if not my body, and memories flooded my mind.
We extend our condolences to his family. May Joe’s memory be for a blessing.