Tags: Haviva Reick

Heart’s Command

A play about the life of Haviva Reick, one of the 30 or so parachutists sent on military missions in Nazi-occupied Europe by the Jewish Agency Defense Department and Great Britain’s Special Operations Executive. In 1939, Reick immigrated from a small Slovakian village to Palestine, where she joined a kibbutz and later enlisted in an elite Jewish underground military organization. She returned to Slovakia in the fall of 1944 to assist with the resistance movement there. In the play, Haviva Reick’s story is presented in the form of a memory recounted by her former lover, now an old man living in a retirement home. A young student, Yael, is assigned to keep the old man company. The girl triggers the old man’s memory of Reick when she tells him she lives on Haviva Reick Street. He remembers Reick’s determination to assist with the war effort despite the advice she was given not to leave. The story of Reick’s courage and spirit serves as inspiration to the young girl to deal with her own troubles.

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This play, which was never performed, was inspired by a real controversy that took place in Slovakia between parachutist Haviva Reick (who arrived in 1944 from pre-state Israel and fell in the line of duty) and a group of young Jewish members of the local resistance. The group, as well as Haviva, belonged to the Zionist movement Hashomer Hatzair. Shaham knew Haviva Reick in the Palmach underground elite force in British Mandatory Palestine. Yudka, the play's main character, represents Haviva Reick. The group members are preparing to retreat in the mountains and to fight. The background was deciding whether to take just young people or also to try to rescue older members of the community, Haviva/Yudka’s belief.