Secondary Source: Reasons for Returning: Hannah Senesh – MS, HS

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Secondary Sources: Reasons for Returning: Hannah Senesh

Hannah Senesh (Szenes) 1921-1944

Hannah Senesh chose to run away from horror and then chose to go back there. Her story is completely different from that of Hagar, yet both leave and then choose to return from the reality they fled from. Hannah was not forced to go back, but did that of her own free will (was Hagar forced to return, or just strongly advised to?). Hagar received a promise for her child’s future from an angel of God, while Hannah found her death upon returning to Hungary – yet despite these differences, the comparison is worth exploring.

Hannah Senesh, was born in Budapest. She demonstrated a literary talent from an early age, and she kept a diary from age 13 until shortly before her death. Although her family was assimilated, anti-Semitic sentiment in Budapest led her to involvement in Zionist activities, and she left Hungary for Eretz Yisrael in 1939.

Watching the war in Europe, in 1943 Senesh knew she had to do something. She decided that her knowledge of Europe could help save Jews. She joined the British Army and volunteered to be parachuted into Europe. After special training in Egypt she was one of thirty-three Israelis chosen to parachute behind enemy lines. The purpose of this operation was to help the Allied efforts in Europe and establish contact with resistance fighters in an attempt to aid Jewish communities. In March, 1944 Senesh was parachuted into Yugoslavia with the goal of making her way to her native Budapest. On June 7, 1944, Senesh crossed the border into Hungary. She was caught almost immediately by the Hungarian police. Throughout her ordeal she remained steadfast in her courage, and when she was executed by a firing squad on November 7, she refused the blindfold, staring squarely at her executors and her fate. In 1950, Senesh’s remains were brought to Israel and re-interred in the military cemetery on Mount Herzl.



Ya’akov’s bones were also brought back from Egypt with the Exodus, traveling with the Israelites and then finally buried in Canaan – what kind of journey is it to have your bones brought back for burial? Why might you want this?

Image source: wikimedia commons

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