Alumnus Honors Israeli Heroine Hannah Senesh at Mount Herzl

A Teacher's Reflection

By Julie Ziessman

As teachers and parents, we don't always know how impactful our stories and teachings are in the moment. It may take days, months, or even years to truly understand what our students are internalizing. Then when you may least expect it, you have a moment with your child or a former student that makes you realize the true value of a Heilicher education.

I recently had a moment like this on a family tour of Israel with Herzl Camp. The children were all Herzl campers—both Heilicher students and children from other schools in the Twin Cities and beyond. One of our stops was Mount Herzl, Israel's National Cemetery, where one of Israel's national heroines, Hannah Senesh, is buried.

Hannah Senesh was a Special Operations Executive paratrooper with the British Army. She parachuted into Yugoslavia during World War II to assist with the rescue of the Hungarian Jews. Senesh was imprisoned and tortured, but refused to reveal details of her mission. She eventually was tried and executed by firing squad. Senesh is famous not only for her bravery, but also for her beautiful poetry. One of her most famous poems that has been made into a song is Eli, Eli ("My God, My God").

As our groups toured around the cemetery paying respect to Israel's national leaders, one of our alumni, Max Roether, noticed the grave site for Hannah Senesh. Our tour guide asked if anyone knew her story. Max took the microphone and proceeded to tell the story of Hannah Senesh he had learned at Heilicher. Max then asked the group if they knew the song Eli, Eli and proceeded to lead the group in a beautiful musical tribute to this national heroine.

At Heilicher our kids are learning so much each and every day, but sometimes it takes special moments outside of school to remind ourselves how extraordinary our education is.

Julie Ziessman is Admissions and Outreach Director at Heilicher and a former kindergarten teacher at the school.



  • Alumni
  • Families
  • Israel
  • Judaic Studies

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