Blessed is the Match


The other day I watched the movie “Blessed is the Match”. . It was the first time I saw it, and it was very inspiring to see the documentary about the life of a true Jewish hero.

It the story of Hannah Szenes (sometimes spelled phonetically as “Senesh”).  She was born in 1921 in Budapest, Hungary.

Her father was a playwright and newspaper columnist who died when she was six. After his death, she and her one-year-older brother, George, were raised by their mother, Catherine, in a middle-class home. Hannah inherited her father’s literary talent and began a diary at the age of thirteen – recording her travels, relationships, day-to-day life, and desire to become a professional writer.

With rising anti-Jewish activity in Hungary, Szenes became a Zionist and yearned to go to the Jewish homeland. Much to Hannah’s surprise, George also became a Zionist while studying at a university in France.

Just after her 18th birthday, Szenes got her papers to immigrate to Israel, where she went to agricultural college in Nahalal and worked the land on Kibbutz Sdot Yam.  Sdot Yam was established in 1936, just north of Haifa. It was founded at the urging of David Ben-Gurion during the period when the British were refusing to allow Jews to enter the Promised Land. The Kibbutz was ostensibly based on fishing, but was in reality used for smuggling in then-illegal immigrants. It served as a base for the Haganah (unofficial army of the Jewish community during the British Mandate of Palestine). Yossi Harel, famous for the Exodus and three other such ships, is buried at Sdot Yam.

As news of the fate of the Jews of Europe reached Israel, an unwavering desire to help her brethren grew in Hannah. She and 32 other Jews formally joined the British army and were trained as parachutists in Cairo. Their mission was to parachute into Europe to help allied pilots who had been shot down, to assist local efforts against the Nazis and, finally, to aid in smuggling Jews to safety in then the British Mandate of Palestine. She wrote in her diary: “I must go to Hungary, be there at this time … and bring my mother out.”

Szenes was sent to Yugoslavia, to help pilots and partisans. There she wrote “, the poem, “Blessed is the match” (Ashrei ha-Gafrur), which today nearly every Israeli can recite from memory:

“Blessed is the match that burns and kindles the flames.

 Blessed is the flame that burns inside the hearts.

 Blessed are the hearts to know when to stop with dignity.

          Blessed is the match that burns and kindles the flames.”

When Germany started deporting Jews from her native Hungary, Szenes bravely crossed the border with a French partisan and two Jews who were escaping. Unfortunately they were caught by a Hungarian Nazi patrol. Despite being brutally beaten, Szenes refused to give information regarding her mission. November 7, 1944, she was sentenced to death for treason and faced a firing squad without a blindfold.

In 1950, Szenes’s remains were flown to Israel and reburied on Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem along with the six other parachutists who died during their heroic mission.

Hannah became a symbol of courage, fortitude and a pioneering spirit – a prime example of Israeli heroism – bridging the gap between the Holocaust and the rebirth of a sovereign Jewish nation.

If you can – watch the documentary – it is will inspire you!

Shalom from Israel – Lilo


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