Hannah’s Story

There’s an interesting new exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. “Fire in My Heart” recounts the life of Hannah Senesh, who was born in Budapest in 1921 and was executed by firing squad 23 years later. Using artifacts, photographs, interviews with people who knew her, and quotes from her diary, letters, and poetry, the exhibit traces the arc from awareness (the literary society wouldn’t let her be elected as an officer because she was Jewish) to fervor (she became a kibbutznik in Israel) to tragedy (she was killed after being caught parachuting behind enemy lines), without losing track of the person behind the icon—you really feel as if you get to know who Hannah Senesh was. What I found most endearing was that for all her idealism, she was also a realist. At 15, she wrote in her diary how she longed to be “a great soul,” then mocked herself the next day for even thinking such a thing possible. And in 1939, she warned against envisioning a “dream land,” pointing out that there would always be “bad weather, economic differences, and mistakes.” The exhibit is up through Aug. 7.


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