The final days before an exhibition opens are always quite exciting, and this week before the opening of Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh has been no exception. Lou Levine, curator and project director, while preparing two lectures to present to Gallery Educators about Hannah’s life, took time out to record the audio for the 14 artifact explorations that will be on the website.
We chose artifacts from Hannah’s childhood and adolescence in Budapest, her young adulthood in the Land of Israel, and a few items from her mission to Hungary. No photos of Hannah exist once she was captured, so we set the mood with, among other things, the last note she wrote to her mother.
The artifact explorations give us the opportunity to present more detail about an object or a photo, the kind of information that there is never enough room to include in the exhibition. While listening to Lou talk about the artifacts, I learned things that I just wouldn’t know otherwise.
For instance, there is a picture of Hannah and her brother Gyuri (Giora) taken in Tel Aviv in February 1944. It is the last picture taken of them, and it is the last time they see each other. When Gyuri received the photo, he inscribed the back of the photo: “How good and pleasant it is for siblings to be together. February 1944 Tel Aviv” and sent it to Hannah. She responded: “How good! Hannah 1944 March 10,” and returned the photo to him. Although the photo, which captures a smiling pair of siblings sharing what only siblings can know, had been published often, the original photo was discovered in Gyuri’s desk after his death in 1995. Only in researching this exhibition did Lou discover the inscriptions on the back of the photo.
This Wednesday, when the exhibition opens to the public, Lou will be giving a talk about Hannah at 7 p.m. where he will reveal more of what he discovered while researching the short but intriguing life of Hannah Senesh. Save the date.
Photo: Hannah Senesh and her brother Gyuri (Giora), Tel Aviv, 1944. Collection of the Senesh Family.