September 15, 2009
I will never forget that afternoon, almost seven years ago, when the entire country watched with pride and happiness the live broadcast of the
I will never forget the moment when the connection with
I will never forget how a few months later, I went to visit Eliezer in his home near Be’er Sheva. Our Partnership 2000 region of Ofakim/Merchavim decided to commemorate Ilan Ramon by dedicating the theme of our annual parade in his memory. I volunteered to ask Ilan’s father to represent the family in the march. I called him, though I had lots of hesitations. He was very friendly and accommodating, and immediately invited me to come over to his home to tell him everything about our partnership and community. I went there with Eli Ophir, our then partnership director, and we spent an unforgettable evening with him. The old man was sharp, smart, and full of stories. He gave both of us a wonderful Zionist, Jewish history lesson and connected it to the love of the
I will never forget the few occasions when we, members of UJC MetroWest, visited the Nahalal cemetery. It is a unique, very old graveyard overlooking the beautiful Jezre’el valley. Dr. Motti Zeira, our partner who runs the Midrasha in Oranim, wrote his Ph.D. about the early Zionist pioneers of the first and second Aliyiot, who tried to settle this valley and dealt with their Jewish, Israeli identity issues, along with physical and spiritual challenges.
From time to time Motti takes us on an inspirational visit to an old cemetery, and his stories become real and vivid in front of the graves, the monuments, and our own eyes. One of his favorites is the Nahalal cemetery. He walks us through some of the old graves, then goes to the grave of one of the most famous new Israeli heroes, Moshe Dayan, and then, last but not least, the grave of our first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon. All are there, gathered together in this small but so symbolic and meaningful cemetery.
I will never forget only three months ago when the entire nation watched with pride and happiness the graduation ceremony of the Israeli air force pilots course. This ceremony is always a big deal here, but the last one was even more remarkable: The honor of excellence was given to the most talented and promising graduate: Asaf Ramon, Ilan’s oldest son, who himself received that same honor some 20 years before. Asaf was 15 when his father perished, and already then he decided that he was going to keep his father’s legacy and follow in his footsteps. His widowed mother, Rona, had to sign a special declaration that she agrees that her son can be drafted into a combat unit. It sounds bizarre but this is the reality and the IDF procedure here. Like many other bereaved families, she signed the document to fulfill her son’s wishes.
I will never forget the picture of President Peres himself with a huge smile, decorating the salt of the earth, Asaf, with his “flying wings,” whispering something, while Rona and some thousand guests in the audience and perhaps millions at home were cheering.
I will never forget yesterday when I heard that an F 16 jet crashed during a training exercise in the
Today, Asaf was put to rest near his father and other salt of the earth heroes in the old Nahalal cemetery. Not one eye in
I will never forget three generations of Jewish heroes and these salt of the earth human beings: Eliezer, Ilan, and Asaf Ramon. May they rest in peace.