To Mrs. Ramon and Family

It has taken me several days to understand what I want to say about Ilan Ramon. Beyond the traditional role of Western hero - the adventuring astronaut who embodies the Western world's idea of courage, someone who dares to pioneer the limits of human understanding and human capability - there was something more. It is that "more" that has been so hard to define.

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OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
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It has taken me several days to understand what I want to say about Ilan Ramon. Beyond the traditional role of Western hero - the adventuring astronaut who embodies the Western world's idea of courage, someone who dares to pioneer the limits of human understanding and human capability - there was something more. It is that "more" that has been so hard to define.

But finally, I think I do understand. The Jewish people sent Ilan Ramon as its representative, to join hands with the world in exploring a new frontier for the betterment and enlightenment of mankind. Despite the Holocaust, in which the Jewish people were separated out, vilified, brutalized, condemned, with Ilan, we Jews reached out to the world, to our fellow men, wanting so much to be part of the striving towards common good.

Whatever the distances between ourselves in Israel and our Jewish brethren abroad, every Jew knew that Ilan Ramon represented him, or her. And he made us all so very proud.

He wasn't religious, but he asked for kosher food. He asked a rabbi what time the Sabbath would come in and go out in space. He brought a Torah scroll, and the picture drawn by a young Holocaust victim, who could only stare behind electrified fences at the stars. He went into space as a Jew and as an Israeli, someone who fought to protect the Jewish homeland; a pilot who was part of the Jewish air force that destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor, before it could destroy us, and the rest of the world. And in so doing, he united every Jew, reminding us all of our shared culture, our history, those things which connect us. And in so doing, he reached out the hand of our people towards mankind for the good.

The Jews of Israel have suffered indescribable losses. After two years of Intifada, that have brought the Jewish people once again face to face with what is worst in the human race - the instinct to kill and be killed, the sickening lies of hate-filled propaganda - Ilan Ramon managed to lift up our minds and hearts and to carry them with him as he flew towards heaven.

May God grant him a heavenly reward for sanctifying the Jewish people, and the name of God.
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Naomi Ragen is a best-selling novelist and columnist who has lived in Israel since 1971. More of her work can be seen at www.NaomiRagen.com.


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