Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Celebrating Israel’s Independence

Today, May 10, is Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day. This year we’re proud to invite you to learn about one of Israel’s first heroes in our inspiring exhibition Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh.

The holiday celebrates Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s 1948 declaration that Israel was an independent state, but many people should be honored for their contributions to the early days of the Jewish State. Hannah Senesh is one of them.

Known throughout the world as the author of the hymn Eli, Eli, Hannah Senesh came of age as a promising poet in cosmopolitan Budapest. In 1939, like many other idealistic young adults, she immigrated to the Land of Israel and became a pioneering kibbutznik. After completing two years of studies at the Agricultural School for Young Women in Nahalal, she joined the newly organized kibbutz, Sedot Yam. In 1943, she volunteered to participate in a secret British mission to parachute behind enemy lines, hoping she might at the same time aid Hungary’s embattled Jews. She was caught, and executed the following year at the age of 23. Almost immediately, Senesh became a national hero to the fledgling Jewish community in Palestine. Her remains were moved to Israel in 1950, and she is now buried in the section of Israel’s national military cemetery dedicated to the parachutists. Hannah’s mother and brother survived the war and lived in Israel until their deaths in 1992 and 1995 respectively.

Following the opening of the exhibition in New York in October 2010, the office of the Prime Minister of Israel announced that they would work with Kibbutz Sedot Yam in order to preserve Hannah’s legacy by expanding the museum in her memory and transforming it into the permanent home of her archive.

Visit www.mjhnyc.org/hannah for more information and artifact explorations. The exhibition will be on view through August 7.

Photo: Hannah and friend in Palestine, 1940-41.
Collection of the Senesh Family

1 comment:

Abby said...

When I was in the subway yesterday, a woman was playing "Eli, Eli" on a saw. The melody carried throughout the station, and as goofy as it sounds, it captured the right mood.

Happy Yom Ha'atzmaut!