An Astronaut, the Holocaust and Israel

This evening I was very fortunate to see a wonderful film, “An Article of Hope.” It is the story of an incredible hero Ilan Ramon the Israeli Astronaut aboard the ill fated Columbia shuttle mission STS-107 in 2003. Ilan was an incredible man with an incredible story.

He wasn’t just an astronaut. He was a humble man that carried in his hands the story of a people and a nation. As a fighter pilot he planned, led and successfully completed a mission in 1981 called Operation Opera. The mission was to destroy the Osiraq Nuclear Reactor. This was 10 years before Desert Storm and 22 years before George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq.

Ilan told the world about Israel, and its people. He carried with him a small Torah, that survived the Holocaust. The Torah was given to him to carry into space by Prof. Yehoyachin Yosef a survivor of Bergen Belsen. Professor was Bar Mitzvahed secretly with threat of death using this Torah while in the Concentration Camp. During a television appearance aboard the Shuttle Ilan told the story of this very special Torah and the plight that the Jewish people had been induring for eons. He also carried a picture drawn by a 16 year old by that died in Auschwitz. It was a picture from a little boy’s mind of what the surface of the moon would look like.

Ilan told the story as no one ever had before. He told it from a place that it had never been told before. He reminded the world that anti-semitism is deplorable. Unfortunately it still exists in the world. Today in many ways it is as bad as it has ever been. So many countries want to destroy this wonderful country that has been the home of the Jewish people since the beginnings of monotheism.

The Torah that accompanied him did not survive. However 37 pages of a diary he kept during the mission did miraculously survive. One of the pages included the Kiddush which is a Jewish prayer said before drinking wine on the Sabbath. Ilan wanted to be the first person to say it during a journey in space. The Torah was never found.

Ilan Ramon is the only person to receive the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He was survived by his wife and four children. Ilan’s mother and grandmother were survivors of Auschwitz. His father fought in Israel’s war for independence. His eldest son, a pilot in The Israeli Air Forced died in 2009 during a training mission.

The legacy that Ilan left us is a message of the survival of the Jewish People. He knew the story must be told over and over again so that we do not forget. We must continue to tell the story and protect this incredible country. Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East. It developed Interferon Proteins that fight Cancer. I receive this treatment in my fight against cancer like many other people in the world. It developed the flash drive that so many of us utilize with our computers. It developed the drip irrigation system which saves the world water while producing food. That cherry tomato we all love was developed in Israel. Israel is a miracle consisting of 1/16 of 1% of the land occupied by its neighboring Arab countries.