“To be a free people in Our Land”
Goal: Families will learn about the story of Hannah Senesh, a young Zionist hero who lost her life in defense of the Jewish people.
- Museum Visit (actual or virtual)
- Studying biography
- Learning a songs and poems
- Conversation between children and adults
The story of young Hannah Senesh connects the story of Israel’s founding to the Holocaust. Although her story ends tragically, she reminds us of the tremendous struggles the Jewish people were facing during the Holocaust and how young Jews motivated by a strong sense of Jewish peoplehood risked their lives to save the Jewish people. The story of the Jewish people’s survival after the Holocaust brings us to Israel and America, and other countries around the world. On this day, we want to focus on Israel.
To learn about Hannah Senesh this year, a family or school can take a trip to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan. After touring the exhibit, find somewhere to sit and have a discussion about:
- What did it mean to Hannah Senesh to feel a part of the Jewish people?
- Why did she move to Palestine to build the future Jewish State, and why did she volunteer for such a dangerous rescue mission?
- Can you imagine doing the same thing when you are her age? Is there a cause you feel strongly about?
- How do her words and deeds continue to live on Israel today?
If you can’t make it to the Museum, you can learn about Hannah’s story from the website: http://www.mjhnyc.org/hannah/.
Hannah Senesh’s story can also teach us about her deep love of the land of Israel. As a poet, she wrote a beautiful poem, “Walking to Caesaria” (http://www.mjhnyc.org/hannah/poetry.html), which was put to music and sung by Jews all over the world. The words of the song are a prayer inspired by nature. Read the words of the poem and ask:
- Has nature ever inspired you to think about God?
Senesh wrote this poem as she looked at the Mediterranean Sea in Israel, if you’ve been to Israel has nature there caused you to think more about God? For more versions of this song, check out these:
Right outside the Museum of Jewish Heritage is the Statue of Liberty. At the base of the statue is an excerpt by a Jewish American poet, Emma Lazarus (1849-1887). If you have time you can explore, how another young Jewish poet living in America thought about the connection between Jewish peoplehood and freedom. Print out her biography before the outing and read the story of Emma Lazarus as you view the Statue: ask yourselves why her connection to Jewish peoplehood inspired her to write this poem about freedom: