Sarah Braverman, pioneer paratrooper, dies at 95
Founder of IDF Women’s Army Corps parachuted into Nazi-controlled Europe with Hannah Senesh.
Sarah Braverman, a founder of the IDF Women’s Army Corps, passed away on
Saturday at the age of 95.
Surika, as she was known, was one of the first
women to join the Palmah, the elite striking arm of the Hagana militia, the
forerunner of the Israeli army. She was also one of only three women among a
select group of 37 volunteers from the Yishuv, Israel’s pre-state Jewish
community, who were parachuted into Nazicontrolled territory during the World
Her funeral is scheduled for Monday at Kibbutz Shamir in the
One of the founders of the kibbutz, Braverman was a
dedicated Socialist Zionist and a member of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement.
She was born in the Romanian city of Botosani in 1918 and studied agriculture
after making aliya in 1938, during the period of the British
Braverman was honored by Israel during her lifetime for her role
in assisting underground fighters in Europe, however, she never achieved the
level of fame of her fellow paratrooper Hannah Senesh, who was killed after
landing near the Hungarian border and whose poetry became an integral part of
the Zionist zeitgeist here.
Too scared to jump during her paratrooper
mission, Braverman eventually found her way onto the European battlefield “but
landed on the ground in a small plane,” she told participants three years ago
during a memorial for her friend Haviva Reik, another volunteer
At that same event, Braverman also noted that she, Senesh,
Reik and the other volunteers were “simple people who believed in what they were
doing for their people and the Zionist Socialist and political movements they
During her time in the European underground, she recalled
prior to her death, she hid her identity from the partisans and claimed to be an
English journalist, but she used her real name. Her cover story, she stated, was
ridiculous: “Whoever heard of an educated English lady who doesn’t wear makeup
and knows how to milk partisan cows?”
Braverman was honored with lighting a
torch on Israel’s 62nd Independence Day for her efforts to save Jews during the
Following her return from Europe, she was one of the first
women to serve in the women’s corps and contributed to the establishment of that
Seth Frantzman contributed to this report.