October 14, 2010


Hannah Senesh Self-Portrait (Courtesy of the Senesh Family)

We opened our wonderful new Special Exhibition on Tuesday.  Here are my introductory remarks:

I want to welcome you to this opening celebration of our newest special exhibition, Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh. I am fond of saying that our Museum – a museum about 20th Century Jewish History and the Holocaust -- is much more about life than about death. This exhibition about hero and poet Hannah Senesh is perfect proof of that assertion. For many, Hannah’s death was the defining moment of her life. While this exhibition explains the circumstances surrounding her death, its center of gravity is her life – and what a life it was! Tragically cut short, but lived with commitment and purpose and meaning.

Surely this story could be told in other media. It has, in fact, been conveyed to the public through the printed word and, recently, brilliantly on film, and certainly it will continue to be told in new and changing ways. But it has never and can never be so powerfully presented as it is in a museum – in this Museum. Should anyone argue that museums have been superseded by more exciting and flashier media, let them come to this exhibition. Let them encounter remarkable, authentic artifacts in an intimate setting, let them view the pages of Hannah’s diaries and notebooks – the drafts of her poems – the last note to her mother. Let them come face to face with objects that Hannah touched, with photographs that she composed, with letters that she wrote. Let them experience the singular feeling that is only possible in the presence of such objects. Indeed, there is something uniquely human in the reaction we have when we encounter powerful artifacts. The receptors that we possess for empathy and imagination are engaged, and we have the capacity to understand and to sense kinship that has no match in our experience with other media.

And when this profound and human interaction takes place in the context of a story like that of Hannah Senesh, the impact exceeds our ability to describe it in words. We are moved directly as we follow the exemplary life of Hannah Senesh and we are moved deeply as we witness the evidence she left behind.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Marwell,
Thank you for your blog,it's very good.
I grew up on the symbol of Chana for her idealism and self sacrifice and complete devotion to the faith of the People of Israel.She went to her tragic death with such courage that is almost inhumane.And the poetry she left behind her, so delicate and strong, tells us what a sensitive and unique person she was.
By the way,I'm starting as a volunteer in the museum in translating survivors memoirs,which I always wanted to do, but as a teacher I would like to become a Gallery Educator, as I've learned a lot about the Shoah; unfortunately this year a course was not opened for educators.
Kol Toov and

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Marwell,

Thank you for your blog, it's very good.
I grew up on the Symbol of Channa for her self sacrifice and idealism, and her courage in the face of her tragic ending. The poetry she left behind tells us of what a sensitive, strong and unique person she was.
By the way, I'm starting to volunteer in translating survivors memoirs in the museum, but I'm also very interested in the Gallery Educators program: I am a teacher and have been learning a lot about the Shoah.Unfortunately, this year the Educators' Program was not opened.

Kol Toov,