The “first lady of the IDF,” Sarah Braverman, who parachuted into Europe with famed Jewish heroine Hanna Szenes, fought in the Palmach, and established the IDF Women's Corps, passed away Sunday at age 95. She will be laid to rest Monday at Kibbutz Shamir, where she has lived for decades.
She was born in Romania in 1919, and arrived in Israel at a very young age; the date is not known. Growing up in Israel she became involved with the Zionist liberation movement, as it sought to gain independence from Britain and defend the Jewish community from Arab attacks. Braverman was a member of the Palmach, the special fighting forces of the Haganah, and was involved in numerous combat exchanges during the War of Independence.
Braverman was part of the ill-fated 1943 parachuting mission into Hungary by Palmach fighters who sought to aid Jews before they were taken by the Nazis to be murdered. She joined a group of 37 parachutists, led by Hanna Szenes and Haviva Reich, both of whom were caught by the Nazis and killed. She managed to escape and make her way back home.
After the establishment of the State, she established the IDF Women's Corps. In 2010, she was chosen to light one of the torches at the opening of Independence Day festivities, in recognition of her contributions to the state.
Commenting on her passing, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon said that she was “a unique woman. I first met her when I was Chief of Staff, at a memorial service for Hanna Szenes, and we became friends. Over the years we held many conversations about the state of Israel, and its future. She was a Zionist and cared a great deal for the country, and she showed this through her personality and actions,” Ya'alon added.