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January 10, 2003 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-10

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thought it would be nice if I could
have kosher food."
The observance of Shabbat. is anoth-
er matter. Ramon said he never even
thought about marking the day of rest
and was surprised when some rabbis
raised the issue with him.
The discussion, however, became
largely academic, as the impact on
Ramon's crewmates if he didn't work
Shabbat would be too great a burden.
A small debate began, however,
about how to mark the seventh day,
when sunsets are occurring every 90
minutes in orbit.
"I think the solution was that since
we, the astronauts go by Houston time,
Central Time, then that's when Shabbat
will be for me also," Ramon said.
Rather than lighting can-
dles, however, Ramon will
have to content himself with
running one of the combus-
tion experiments planned for
Spirit of Holocaust victim
during the Columbia mission.
Ramon will be working
to soar in space.
with about 140 payloads in
NAME: Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon
all, including an Israeli-spon-
sored experiment to study
PERSONAL: Age 48, married, four children
dust particles and how they
`OTHER' MISSION: The son of Holocaust sur-
affect Middle East weather.
vivors, Col. Ramon is taking into space a draw-
Discussions to continue the
ing by Peter Ginz, a 14-year-old Holocaust vic-
experiment aboard the space
tim who drew what the Earth would look like
station after Ramon's flight
from the moon.
are under way. "We have a lot
"I feel like I'm taking his vision and his spirit
to offer," Ramon says, refer-
of space," said Col. Ramon, who selected the
ring to Israel's budding aero-
drawing from Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust
Memorial in Jerusalem.
As part of the mission's
— Irene Brown
preparation, Shuttle
Commander Rick Husband
invited Ramon and his crewmates to
maybe not the bodies."
participate in a leadership training
program — to build problem-solving
Kosher In The Cosmos
skills, stimulate healthy group dynam-
ics and teach stress management.
Keenly aware that he is flying as a rep-
For 10 days, the Columbia crew
resentative of Israel, Ramon, who
wandered in the Wyoming mountains,
describes himself as a secular Jew,
carting 55-pound backpacks. The
asked NASA if kosher meals could be
astronauts hiked and climbed, set up
available for his flight.
camp and took turns navigating,
Although_several Jewish American
organizing and motivating their com-
astronauts have flown in space before,
none had ever requested kosher meals.
"We got to learn a lot about how
"I was amazed how they made the
each of us, as individuals, deal with
effort to supply me," said Ramon,
situations," Husband said. "You learn
whose lunch and dinner menus in
to work together, to pull together ...
orbit include such delicacies as kosher
and you know each others' strengths
Old World stew and kosher chicken
and weaknesses."
Ramon realizes his own view of the
While Ramon won't keep strictly
world is likely to change after his
kosher, he won't mix meat and dairy
foods and will avoid shellfish and pork flight. "When we go up to space,
Earth is one unity and no borders are
while in space. "Personally, I don't
keep kosher and my family doesn't fol- seen from there.
That's the vision that NASA carries
low all the religious rules; but since I
on and that is my vision too," he •
feel I represent all kinds of Israeli peo-
said. ❑
ple and the Jewish community, I

the agenda. So I never thought I
would have been an astronaut.
"When I was selected, I really
jumped almost to space. I was very
excited," Ramon said.
In 1998, Ramon, his wife, Rona,
and their four children, who were
between 2 and 10 years old at the
time, packed up and relocated to
Houston, leaving behind a close
extended family.
. A few of Ramon's relatives and
friends plan to travel to Florida to
watch his launch.
"I'm not expecting a lot of people
from Israel," said Ramon, who speaks
fluent, but slightly accented English.
"The hearts and the souls of the peo-
ple from Israel will be with me, but

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