From the pages of the Jewish News
from this week 10, 20, 30, 40, 50
and 60 years ago.
Born To Fly
New book tells the story of Col. Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut.
knocked out a crucial nuclear reactor in Iraq. To avoid being
detected, they flew in a tight formation, so that Iraqi radar
would mistake the eight planes for one commercial aircraft.
Ramon volunteered to pilot the final plane in the forma-
hen Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon launched
the one most likely to be singled out. Unmarried at
into space in January with the six other crew
he asked his commanders to place him in this
members of the space shuttle Columbia, the
vulnerable position so that others, who had wives and chil-
Jerusalem Post gave him daily coverage.
dren, would have more chance of returning safely.
And, when the shuttle disintegrated Feb. 1 in the skies
Until 1998, when Ramon's name was announced as
over Texas, the Post began a continuing drumbeat of arti-
Israel's first astronaut, his involvement in the Iraqi mission
cles on the investigation of the tragedy — along with a
had never been made public.
series of memorial tributes to Ramon, the "golden boy"
In1987, Ramon earned a bachelor's degree in electronics
who became Israel's first astronaut.
computer engineering at Tel Aviv University, and
Alan Abbey, the Post's
began a climb through the air force ranks that culminated
electronic publishing, used information from these articles
in being named a colonel.
as the basis for his first book, Journey of Hope: The Story of
In Journey of Hope, Abbey quotes Major General Amos
Ran Ramon, Israel's First Astronaut. Abbey spent June 2 at
as saying Ramon would never have been promoted
the offices of the Jewish News and, on June 3, spoke to stu-
— he was "too nice. To reach this," Gen. Yadlin
dents at Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit.
said, "you need to be
On both occasions, the
author emphasized that Ramon
On the Columbia,
had not become an astronaut
Ramon was a mission spe-
for personal glorification.
= cialist, trained to conduct
"Throughout his life, he very
experiments that could
consciously set out to be a par-
eventually lead to control-
adigm of what it means to be
ling dust storms.
an Israeli citizen and the son of
"You didn't need to be a
a Holocaust survivor," he said.
pilot for what he did,"
At only 53 pages, Abbey's
Abbey said. But, in pick-
book does not delve into techni-
ing a pilot, Israel harkened
cal details of the space fight nor
back to the fact that all
of Ramon's life. "If I had made
seven of the astronauts
it more complex, it wouldn't
picked in 1959 for the
have been done on time," Abbey
United States space pro-
said. "I would say it's appropri-
Alan Abbey speaks to Hillel Day School students.
gram had been military jet
ate for ages 11 or 12 and up."
The author begins Journey of
Hope with the successful launching of the space shuttle
Columbia, as Ramon's wife and four children breathe a
sigh of relief. Then Abbey reaches back in time to the 1995 Auschwitz and a refugee father who had fought in Israel's
War of Independence.
decision by U.S. President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime
"Because I was born in Israel, many people will see this as a
Minister Shimon Peres to include an Israeli in a shuttle
dream come true," he told an interviewer. "I'm kind of the
crew, and follows that with a history of Ramon himself.
proof for my parents and their generation that whatever we've
been fighting for in the last generation is becoming true."
On his mission, Ramon brought along three symbols of
the Holocaust: a miniature Torah scroll that, along with its
Israel's first astronaut was born in a working-class neigh-
owner, survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; a
borhood in Beersheva.
mezuzah ringed with bits of barbed wire, symbolizing spiri-
Although Ramon was the most popular boy in high
resistance to Nazi terror; and a pencil drawing of the
school, with the prettiest girlfriends, he was always modest
as seen from the moon, made in Theresienstadt by a
and unassuming, according to those who knew him.
boy who died at Birkenau.
After high school, he attended flight school and piloted
Very few kerns from the Columbia survived the Feb. 1
fighter aircraft in the 1973 Yom Kippur War — even
tragedy, Abbey said. Among them was the Mogen David
though, at only 19 years of age, he was still a trainee.
patch from Ramon's Israeli Air Force uniform. 1-1
In 1981, he flew one of the eight Israeli F-16s that
The Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, the central body of
Reform Judaism, announces a new
program to certify all temples that
help the disabled to participate
fully in congregational life.
A permanent scholarship endow-
ment fund in honor of Mary Uhr
of Detroit — who served as assis-
tant head of the Legal Aid Bureau
in Detroit and who devoted much
of her life to Jewish causes and
Israel — is set up at Hebrew
University's law school by her son
Dr. Jonathan Uhr, former
Detroiter of Dallas.
George Weingarden is installed
president of Akiva Hebrew Day
School in local ceremonies con-
ducted by Rabbi Milton Arm of
Congregation Beth Achim.
Summer courses will be offered for
the Hebrew high schools of the
United Hebrew Schools for
advanced students and for students
who require improvement in their
Detroiter Abe Kasle is re-elected
president of the United Hebrew
Schools of Detroit.
WAMSINI .,NIzt&, Zip
Cantor Pierre Pinchick, one of the
most prominent synagogue singers
in America, will appear in concert
at Beth Abraham Synagogue at
Linwood and Sturtevant in
Rabbi Morris Adler of
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in
Detroit has been invited to deliver
the Professor Morris Levine lecture
at the annual conference of the
Rabbinical Assembly of America in
New York. El
— Compiled by_ Holly Teasdle,
archivist, Rabbi Leo M Franklin
Archives of Temple Beth El