I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The First Jew in Space!
I Posted this on Facebook on February 1st, the ninth Yahrzeit of Ilan Ramon. We as Jews have a duty of Zakhor ...... Today I will Remember herein. Please Remember with me!
Ilan Ramon (June 20, 1954 - February 1, 2003 ~ Hebrew: אילן רמון, born Ilan Wolferman was a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, and later the first Israeli Astronaut. Ramon was the space shuttle payload specialist of STS-107, the fatal mission of Columbia, where he and six other crew members were killed in the re-entry accident. Ramon and the rest of the Columbia crew died over East Texas in the Southern United States during entry into Earth's atmosphere, 16 minutes prior to their scheduled landing. That anniversary occurs this month. He was the first Astronaut to go not as an individual, but as the representative of the entire Jewish people, Am Yisrael!
Ramon was born in Ramat Gan, Israel, and grew up in Beersheba. His mother and grandmother were survivors of Auschwitz Death camp. His first name, Ilan means "tree" in Hebrew, Ilan changed his last name from Wolferman when he joined the IAF. Aboard STS-107, Ramon carried a pencil sketch, "Moon Landscape", drawn by 16-year-old Petr Ginz, who died in Auschwitz. Ramon also took with him a microfiche copy of the Torah given to him by Israeli president Moshe Katsav and a miniature Torah scroll (from the Shoah) that was given him by Prof. Yehoyachin Yosef, a Bergen Belsen survivor. Ramon asked the 1939 Club, a Holocaust survivor organization in Los Angeles, for a symbol of the Holocaust to take into OuterSspace with him. A barbed wire Mezuzah by the San Francisco artist Aimee Golant was selected. Ramon also took with him a dollar of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.
Ramon added other important Jewish elements to his flight. He sanctified Shabbat (which lasts only 90 minutes between sunrises in Space) with the first intergalactic Kiddush. He ate kosher food. And as he passed over Jerusalem, he recited the Shema ... "Shema Yisrael ~ Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One." Ha'Shem is One!!
Although he was not Orthodox or Observant, By placing Torah and it's tradition in such a highly visible role, Ramon broke from the norm of Israeli public figures. This makes his actions all the more praiseworthy. Today, the Public figures of the Israeli government would do well to imitate his actions, and actually LIVE their Judaism. L'Chaim Torah!!!
After the tragedy, I saw an editorial cartoon that depicted a father and son, gazing at the night sky. Seven stars dotted the heavens ~ six regular stars, and one Star of David. As the father placed his arm around the boy's shoulder, he pointed to the Star of David and explained .... "That one is Ilan Ramon."
For 16 days, Ilan Ramon occupied the world stage, and everyone knew that the Star of David on his shirtsleeve meant he was a Jew. And the entire world looked at him and wondered ~ What is a Jew? ......... What they saw is someone who ate kosher food, carried a Torah scroll, and was not afraid to give the ultimate sacrifice for Klal Yisroel. This is a Jew. Distinguished by his Jewish Life. The First Jew in Space. Let us remember him today.