Photograph of Sarah Aaronsohn, 1915
A portrait of Sarah Aaronsohn taken in 1915 when she was 25 years old.
Sarah was born in Zichron Ya’akov in the north of Israel during the time of the Turkish rule of Israel (then Palestine).
In 1916, a year after this photograph was taken, Sarah joined her brother Aaron’s spy ring, NILI, which he had established to provide military information to the British army in order to drive the Turkish rulers out of Israel. When Aaron left Israel for Egypt and Europe, Sarah headed NILI together with Avshalom Feinberg. In 1917, a pigeon carrying information to the British army was caught by the Turkish police. Sarah was caught and tortured. Just before being sent to a prison in Nazareth, she took a gun that she had hidden in her house and put an end to her life.
This photograph could be shown in Jewish History and Jewish Studies lessons together with other primary sources when teaching about the end of Turkish rule in Israel and the life of the Jewish people living there at that time. Sarah Aaronsohn can be given as a good example of women leaders in Israel, and this photograph could, therefore, also be used before Chanukah in lessons about Jewish heroism.
The woman in the photograph is Sarah Aaronsohn. Who was she?
Describe the circumstances of the Yishuv (the Jewish community of Israel) during her lifetime.
Who ruled Israel at the time?
How did these rulers treat the local Jewish population?
Why do you think that the members of the spy organisation NILI supported the British and worked against the Turkish rulers of Israel?
How did NILI help the British establish their rule in Israel?
What happened to NILI and its members?
Did they achieve their goal?
Sarah Aaronsohn is known as “the heroine of NILI.” What do you think of this name? Was she a heroine? Why?