Israel Drazin
Israel Drazin

The Legacy of Hannah Senesh

I saw the film “Hannah’s War” about the heroine and martyr Hannah Senesh on TV. I feel that it is a film everyone should see. It is very moving. Hannah Senesh is one of Israel’s most important heroines. She was born on July 17, 1921 in Budapest, Hungary, and died on November 7, 1944 in Budapest, murdered by a firing squad at age 23, after refusing a blindfold, but looking straight at the pro-Nazi Hungarian firing squad that killed her.

After experiencing anti-Semitism in Budapest, she left her home in 1939 and immigrated to British-controlled Palestine, the name the ancient Romans gave Israel 1,500 years ago in their attempt to erase the knowledge of Israel from Jewish minds, and settled at Kibbutz Sedot Yam. In 1943, she joined the British Army and volunteered to parachute into Europe. In 1944, she volunteered for a British mission to rescue European Jews. She was a Special Operations Executive member, one of 37 Jewish SOE recruits from Mandate Palestine parachuted by the British into Yugoslavia during the Second World War. She was captured, brutally tortured, but refused to reveal anything about her fellow SOE soldiers and the codes used by them, and she was executed for treason.

In 1950, the Israeli government brought her body to Israel with many military honors and buried her on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem where Israel heroes are buried.

She was a poet. Many Israelis consider her poem “A Walk to Caesarea,” usually called “Eli, Eli,” “My God, My God,” after its opening words, as Israel’s unofficial anthem. It is commonly played and sung on Yom HaShoah. Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day.

The following is an English translation of the song.

My God, my God,
may it never end –
the sand and the sea,
the rustle of the water,
the brilliance of the sky,
the prayer of man.

Viewers can hear the song sung by different singers on You Tube, as well as see her story there.

About the Author
Dr. Israel Drazin served for 31 years in the US military and attained the rank of brigadier general. He is an attorney and a rabbi, with master’s degrees in both psychology and Hebrew literature and a PhD in Judaic studies. As a lawyer, he developed the legal strategy that saved the military chaplaincy when its constitutionality was attacked in court, and he received the Legion of Merit for his service. Dr. Drazin is the author of more than 50 books on the Bible, philosophy, and other subjects.
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