Sarah Aaronsohn (1890-1917)

Sarah Aaronsohn is the martyr heroine of Nili. Born in Zikhron Ya'akov, she returned to her family's home after an unhappy marriage in Constantinople. Her brother, Aaron, enlisted her into Nili's intelligence activities against Turkey. She supervised the agents' operations and relayed information to the British in Egypt. In April 1917, she secretly visited Egypt to consult with her brother and the British. Warning her of danger that threatened her in Eretz Israel, they begged her to remain in Egypt, but she refused, and returned in June. In September, on learning that the espionage network had been uncovered by the Turkish authorities, she ordered its members to disperse, while she remained at home to avoid incriminating rumors, thus facilitating escape of other members. Arrested in her home in October 1917, she was subjected to brutal torture for four days, but disclosed nothing, and finally put an end to her suffering by shooting herself. In reverence to her memory, pilgrimages are made to Zikhora Ya'akov on the anniversary of her death.
From Encyclopedia Judaica, Keter Publishing, Jerusalem, 1971.