Monday, December 14, 2015

Remembering Hannah Szenes at Hanukkah

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
No, we didn't forget Hanukkah!

On the last day of Hanukkah we remember the poetry of Hannah Szenes. In particular, we recall her famous poem for Hanukkah; Blessed is the Match or as it is known in Hebrew, Ashrei Ha-Gafrur. The poem was the last she wrote before her execution.


Blessed is the Match

Blessed is the match,
consumed in kindling flame.

Blessed is the flame
that burns in the heart's secret places.

Blessed is the heart that knows,
for honors sake,
to stop its beating.

Blessed is the match,
consumed in kindling flame.


— Hannah Szenes


Hannah Szenes (1921–1944) was a Special Operations Executive paratrooper. She was one of 37 Jews from Mandatory Palestine parachuted by the British Army into Yugoslavia during the Second World War to assist in the rescue of Hungarian Jews about to be deported to the German death camp at Auschwitz.

Szenes was arrested at the Hungarian border, then imprisoned and tortured, but refused to reveal details of her mission. She was eventually tried and executed by firing squad. She is regarded as a national heroine in Israel, where her poetry is widely known and the headquarters of the Zionist youth movements Israel Hatzeira, a kibbutz and several streets are named after her. — Wikipedia