Loss from page 14
Shabbat, said Rabbi Yechiel Morris of Young Israel
"Col. Ramon made a tremendous Kiddush
HaShem [sanctification of God's name]," said Rabbi
Elimelech Silberberg of Sara Tugman Bais Chabad
Torah Center in West Bloomfield. "Even though he
was a secular Jew, he brought the attention of the
world to the importance of doing mitzvos: eating
kosher, celebrating Shabbos, Kiddush, mezuzah, say-
ing Shema. This was an expression of the pure
essence of his soul."
Pilot And Astronaut
partnership with the American Jewish community
and, even more, with the American people," she
wrote. "Partnership that is being reflected not only
in the common goals and values, or the quest for
peace, but also in reaching new horizons in order to
improve life on Earth."
University of Michigan junior Avi Jacobson of
Chevy Chase, Md., heard Ramon speak of his astro-
naut training at an event in Washington, D.C., in
"I was proud to see Israel and, in many ways, the
Jewish people represented by such a professional
individual," said Jacobson, who worked as a
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
intern for two summers and met some of the
Columbia crew. "He was truly a smart man, a good
man, with a remarkable sense of duty and sense of
Jacobson, who is also co-chair of the University of
Michigan Hillel group American Movement for
Israel, added that although he feels the Jewish com-
munity was hit hard by this tragedy, it is not a
uniquely Israeli or Jewish tragedy.
"This is something that affects us all — every-
body, the entire world population," he said, empha-
sizing the need to remember the contributions of all
seven crew members.
and this tragic accident, Israel feels like a sliver right
now. We hope it will become a full moon again
Dr. Cobi Sacerdoti, who was born in Israel, dis-
cussed the tragedy with her Hebrew language and
literature class, telling them this "is one of those his-
torical events you'll always remember."
"When I saw the photo on CNN showing the
astronauts with the Israeli flag right next to the U.S.
flag, at that moment I was so proud to be an
Israeli," said Dr. Sacerdoti. "As an Israeli, the fact
that we had our first astronaut and now he's dead —
it's just too much. We needed something happy; and
JAMD students expressed their feelings as well.
"It's a horrible tragedy; but if you look at it from a
different point of view, we're all coming together to
discuss it and show our support for Israel, just like
this country did after Sept. 11," said Leiana
Monkman of Huntington Woods.
"Ilan Ramon was a symbol for Israel, just like Neil
Armstrong was a symbol for the United States," said
Jennifer Beitner of West Bloomfield. "Now, at least
Israel has that symbol out there, to show that they
are part of the NASA program."
Coincidentally, a group of 18 JAMD seniors
departed last Sunday for their class trip to Israel.
Ramon, an Israeli Air Force colonel from Tel Aviv,
was the husband of Rona and the father of four chil-
dren, ages 5-15.
He was a fighter pilot who fought in the Yom
Kippur War in 1973 and in Lebanon in 1982, and
was one of eight pilots who bombed Iraq's nuclear
reactor in 1981. He was already an Israeli hero when
he was selected as an astronaut in 1997.
"Israel lost not only a wonderful pilot and a won-
derful astronaut, but it lost one of the pillars of the
Israeli Air Force," said Josh Berkovitz, president of
the Michigan Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.
"His track record, his humanity, his family role —
we really lost a role model."
Berkovitz said he was thinking of
bringing Ramon to Detroit as a
guest speaker for the organization's
He had gotten up early Saturday
morning to see the landing on tele-
"I was devastated," he said.
"Sitting and crying all weekend, and
even now, whenever I talk about it,
it's very emotional. Israel and the
United States became partners of loss
even more than they were before."
David Roet, deputy consul general
of Israel in Chicago, said Ramon
attended a Friends of the IDF din-
ner in Chicago last April. •
Rabbi Yigal Tsaidi discussed the shuttle tragedy with Yeshivat Akiva
Dr. Cobi Sacerdoti talked about the astronauts with her
"He saw himself as a representa-
students on Monday.
Hebrew class at the Jewish Academy.
tive of not only Jsrael but the entire
Jewish community, and one can see
"They have a prayer in their hearts that their pres-
that as a secular Jew he became much more in touch
"There were people of all races and backgrounds
with his Jewish roots as he saw himself as an ambas-
ence will bring some comfort, so Israel will feel that
... it just reflects the total human nature of space
it's not alone," said Rabbi Lee Buckman, JAMD
sador of the Jewish people," Roet said. "He said, 'I
exploration," he said. "It's not for any one nation or
want you know when I am in space, you will all be
any one person, but for everybody, and the crew are
headmaster. "The kids were determined to go. They
felt as the first graduating class from JAMD they
not heroes for having died returning to Earth,
didn't want to set a precedent of staying comfortably
It is a part of diplomatic custom to open a condo-
they're heroes for having left in the first place."
in the United States when Israel needs them."
lence book when a head of state or former head of
At Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit in
state or foreign minister passes away, said Roet, who
School Honor Their Memory
Farmington Hills, Judaics teacher Saul Rube had
noted that the consulate has opened a condolence
been talking about Col. Ramon as someone who
book for all the astronauts.
Students and faculty at the Jewish Academy of
personified the concept of kiddush haShem (santifi-
Metropolitan Detroit (JAMD) in West Bloomfield
"It is a symbol of how close both countries are,"
cation of God's name).
he said. "We all shared together tears of happiness
started their Monday morning services with a
"Col. Ramon, who was not observant, acted in
during the shuttle liftoff, and now we are shedding
memorial prayer for the astronauts.
such a way as to bring honor to Judaism — by say-
"Since today is Rosh Chodesh [the first day of the
tears of anguish and sorrow together."
ing the Shema over Jerusalem, bringing a drawing by
Sharon Steinbaum-Open, director of the Jewish
Hebrew month of Adar I], I see the moon as a sym-
a child of the Holocaust, keeping kosher in space. He
bol of the Jewish people — sometimes it's full and
Agency for Israel in the Central Galilee, Detroit's
[exemplified] a value concept we teach and try to
Partnership 2000 region, sent a letter of condolence
other times it's only a small sliver of light," said
reinforce. It seemed to hit home with the students."
Rabbi Aaron Bergman, JAMD director of Jewish
Hillel students in grades K-5 dedicated an hour of
"Today, we feel more than ever, how deep is our
studies. "Between the intifada [Palestinian uprising]