Chicago-Area Museum Hosts Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh, a Creation of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, May 14 - September 8, 2013

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The Illinois Holocaust Museum presents the first major museum exhibition about the life of Budapest-born poet Hannah Senesh, a 23-year-old young woman who died by firing squad in 1944, but has become one of Israel’s most iconic heroes and a lasting symbol of courage.

Collection of the Senesh Family

This exhibition will move visitors of all ages with the prose and poetry of a young hero, and serve as an example of Jewish response to the Holocaust – bold initiative and action against all odds.

Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh sheds light on Hannah Senesh, the inspiring 23-year-old young woman who died by firing squad in 1944, but has endured as one of Israel’s most iconic heroes. This first-ever major exhibition tells how this Budapest-born poet, diarist, and author of the hymn Eli, Eli discovered her love for the Land of Israel, courageously volunteered for a mission to rescue downed Allied fliers and Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary, and ultimately became a lasting symbol of courage and determination.

Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh reveals the real life of the “Israeli Joan of Arc,” allowing visitors to get to know this remarkable individual through her own words and personal artifacts, many of which have never been seen outside New York City. This poignant exhibition begins in cosmopolitan Budapest of the 1920s and 1930s, exploring Hannah’s home life, education and religious beliefs as part of a bourgeois Jewish family and tells how her priorities shifted towards Zionism upon facing anti-Semitism.

“We feel privileged to have the opportunity to tell Hannah’s story. Her courage and idealism will resonate with younger audiences who will be inspired by her determination to change the world,” said Rick Hirschhaut, Executive Director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum, “This exhibition will move visitors of all ages with the prose and poetry of a young hero, and serve as an example of Jewish response to the Holocaust – bold initiative and action against all odds.”

Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh illustrates the power of one person to inspire and impact others through their actions. Hannah’s mission, imprisonment, trial and execution are narrated through the words of her acquaintances, family, and friends who were witness to these tragic events. The exhibition concludes with a section describing Hannah’s legacy.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center will feature programs and events in conjunction with this compelling exhibition. These include: Guest Curator Talk with Dr. Louis Levine on May 19; and Film and Discussion: Blessed is the Match on June 23. To register for these events or to learn more, visit http://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org or call 847-967-4800.

This exhibition is made possible by leadership gifts in loving memory of Anne Ratner from her children and grandchildren, and from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. Additional support provided by the David Berg Foundation and The Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation, Inc.

We are grateful to the Senesh Family for making the exhibition possible by providing material from their collection.

The Golder Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for all Museum Special Exhibitions.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. The Museum fulfills its mission through the exhibition, preservation and interpretation of its collections and through education programs and initiatives that foster the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide. The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; Thursday evenings until 8:00 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Learn more at http://www.illinoisholocaustmuseum.org.

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Karen Goodman Minter
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