Monday, 20 January 2014

Ilan Ramon~11th Anniversary of His Death

Eleven years ago this month, after a sixteen day mission, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry to earth~killing all seven astronauts on board. For the world it was an indescribable tragedy~for tiny Israel, it was if our hearts had been ripped out.

On board the Space Shuttle Columbia was one of Israel's brightest stars, Colonel Ilan Ramon.

In the documentary ("Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope" directed by Dan Cohen), Cohen describes Israel's first (and only) astronaut, as:

"a man used to rising to the occasion...from the moment he arrived in Houston until he lifted off, Ramon went through a transformational change. He came to understand who he was and what he represented”

The program (see below) aired on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Ilan Ramon’s death.

Israel Air Force (IAF) Colonel Ilan Ramon (20 June 1954~01 February 2003) was an engineer (electronics and computers), a pilot, a husband and father of four children. His father fled nazi Germany in 1935, while his Polish mother and grandmother were survivors of Auschwitz. Serving as a combat pilot, he fought in the Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Lebanon War, and was the youngest participant (flying in the last, and most dangerous position) in the 1981 raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak.

Ramon was chosen to be a NASA astronaut in 1997 and in 1998, he began the rigorous, five-year training program. His training for the Columbia mission was carried out at Houston’s Johnson Space Center. Officially designated as a payload specialist, Ramon was described by Commander Mike Anderson as “fully integrated with the crew.” Ilan was the only non-American to receive the United States Congressional Space Medal of Honor (awarded posthumously).

"Although he was a "secular" Jew, Ramon said that he considered himself to be "the representative of all Jews and Israelis". He recognized the importance of maintaining Jewish identity and cultivating unity. Always mindful of his past, he placed a great importance on the history of the Jewish people, and the impact of the fact that he~the child of a Holocaust survivor~was the first Israeli astronaut.

He was the first astronaut to ask for "Kosher" food for the trip and even consulted a Chabad Lubavitch rabbi on "Observing Shabbat in Space" (the period between sunrises in orbit is approximately 90 minutes).
Even the personal items he took with him into space were a thoughtful reflection of his heritage, and the effect that his choices would have on future generations.

A pencil sketch, "Moon Landscape", drawn in the Terezín concentration camp by 14-year-old Petr Ginz (who later died in Auschwitz) was given to him by Yad Vashem.

Items he took included a barbed wire Mezuzah by artist Aimee Golant commissioned by the 1939 Club~a group of Holocaust survivors and their families, a microfiche copy of the Torah given to him by the president of Israel, a silver Kiddush cup, a dollar of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and from Prof. Yehoyachin Yosef, a Bergen Belsen survivor, he had a miniature Torah scroll from the Holocaust~no larger than the palm of your hand.

Perhaps the most important thing he took into space was the pride and hopes of the Nation of Israel and Jewish people around the world.

On Erev Shabbat he used the silver Kiddush cup to sanctify the day~as he held the cup in his hand he recited the blessing for Kiddush from space, high above the earth.

As as he passed over Jerusalem, he recited the words known by every Jew (and the last to be said before death) the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9):
                      Hear, Oh Israel, the Lrd is our Gd, the Lrd is One
Among the personal items that Ramon brought with him, the miniature Torah scroll saved from the Holocaust is especially well remembered:

The scroll had been given to a boy who celebrated his bar mitzvah trapped in the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The rabbi who had smuggled the Torah into the camp did not survive; but the boy, the scroll~and the rabbi’s instruction to tell the world what had happened in that place, and the boy’s promise~did.

The bar mitzvah boy was Dr. Joachim “Yoya” Joseph, a physicist and the lead Israeli scientist supporting Ilan Ramon on the ground. It was from Dr. Joseph that Ilan Ramon learned the story of the scroll. As the son of an Auschwitz survivor, Ilan Ramon was touched deeply by the history of the scroll and asked permission to take the miniature Torah with him. It was granted, and as the space shuttle passed over Israel, Ilan spoke to the Prime Minister of Israel, showing him the tiny parchment and told the story of how it had risen “From the Depths of Hell~Rose to the Heights of Space.”

Making the film of the Columbia tragedy was filled with emotional and financial financial issues, and took a full ten years to complete. Great care was taken to insure the historical accuracy of the documentary, including calling in Dr. Alex Grobman, a historical consultant, to verify the story of the Bar Mitzvah in Bergen-Belson. He did confirm that there actually was a Torah scroll at the ceremony.

Click to Enlarge
From its launch on 16 January 2013, Space Shuttle Columbia's flight was a success during its sixteen day mission. It was only as the crew prepared for landing and began the re-entry into the earth's atmosphere, that the Columbia disintegrated.

At the crash site, people spent days searching to recover the remains of the seven astronauts. Among the few objects that survived were a helmet, and thirty-seven pages of Ilan Ramon's personal diary~written with a special space pen. They were recovered and preserved during a lengthy restoration process at the Israel Museum's paper conservation laboratory. Ramon's weathered and faded handwriting was then deciphered at the documents laboratory of the Israel Police Division of Identification and Forensic Science. The page to the left is one of two pages on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem (on loan from Rona Ramon).

For Jews and non-Jews alike, this program, "Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope" is full of emotion. As an Israeli, my heart was bursting with pride at the progress our tiny country has made in such a short time. As a Jew I sobbed for the loss of one of our finest at such a young age. I leave you with a quote written by Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, written on 01 February 2003:

Our hearts go out to his family members. 
But we can only pray that they will take comfort
in the fact that in his life,
their Ilan
saved both the life and the spirit of his country.

This movie, "Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope" is a personal insight to the thoughts of the shuttle crew, their friends, family and colleagues, and most of all an insight into the man who was Ilan Ramon. I strongly recommend it to everyone.

 * If you can not view the video below, do click on this link

From the Depths of Hell to the Heights of Space~You'll Need Tissues for This One

Caroline Glick~Defense Minister Ya'alon was "Spot On"...

John Kerry's "Obsessive Behavior" and Ridiculous Security Plans...

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Lubavitcher Rebbe on The Mystical Meaning of Seven

Nobody can deny that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (05 April 1902~12 June 1994) was an extraordinary man. He possessed great wisdom and build the Chabad Lubavitch movement from a small remnant to what is perhaps the largest Hassidic group in the world. 

Almost every where one travels, people know of Chabad. Jews in every country, whether religious or not know that if trouble arises, the place to go is Chabad. I have heard many stories from "non-observant" Jews who became stranded in foreign countries, where embassy help was just not available. Each time the story was the same: "We called Chabad and they took care of everything for us" That this great work has continued to grow after the passing of the Rebbe, and without an official "rebbe" to lead the group is an indication of the leadership and charisma of  the seventh and last rebbe of the Chabad Lubavitch movement.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe gave this lecture "Bring Heaven to Earth" on  10 Shevat 5711 (17 January 1951). I have copied the explanation that goes with the video for your convenience.

The Sages state that "All Sevenths" are cherished. This is the reason, they explain, why Moses was the one who merited to bring Gds Presence into this world because he was the seventh from Abraham. The fact that the seventh is cherished indicates the greatness of the first. 

What was the unique quality of Abraham? Abraham served Gd with self-sacrifice. He called out in the Name of Gd, Master of the world the Sages explain: Not, he called out, but rather he brought others to call out. 

This self-sacrifice is expected from each of us in the seventh generation. Even if one feels no spiritual strengths within himself, he is nevertheless told: It is not by your own choice that you are the seventh generation you have the strength by the very fact that you are the seventh. You must realize how cherished you are, and how much has been invested in you. You will then fulfill your part in the mission to draw Gds essence into this material world

The Mystical Meeting of Seven "7"

Mordechai Kedar~Why Muslims Won't Make Genuine Peace

Why Muslims Won't Make Genuine Peace~Part 1 of 7 (Sound is Patchy at Start)

Why Muslims Won't Make Genuine Peace~Part 2 of 7

Why Muslims Won't Make Genuine Peace~Part 3 of 7

Why Muslims Won't Make Genuine Peace~Part 4 of 7

Why Muslims Won't Make Genuine Peace~Part 5 of 7

Why Muslims Won't Make Genuine Peace~Part 6 of 7

Why Muslims Won't Make Genuine Peace~Part 7 of 7

Is Israel's Security Barrier An Obstacle to Peace?

Israel's Barrier Exists to Protect Her Citizens~It's Working and Terrorists Don't Like It!

Monday, 13 January 2014

El Hanaar Hazeh by Shira Choir

אל הנער הזה מקהלת שירה~Shira Choir

אֶל הַנַעַר הַזֶה הִתְפַּלָלְתִּי וַיִתֵּן הַשֵׁם לִי אֶת שְׁאֵלָתִי אֲשֶׁר שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵעִמוֹ. 
וְאֶמְשׁוֹךְ לְהִתְפַּלֵל לְעוֹלְמֵי עַד אֲנִי הַאִמַא אִתְּכֶם לְעוֹלְמֵי עַד. (שמואל א א׳ כ״ז)

For this boy I prayed! 
For you my dear son I prayed to Hashem, Hashem kindly fulfilled my wishes,
You my beloved son will always remain in my prayers
and I will always look after you,

The words to this song were adapted from Hannah's prayer for a son...I Shmuel 1:27

כז. אֶל הַנַּעַר הַזֶּה הִתְפַּלָּלְתִּי וַיִּתֵּן יְהֹוָה לִי אֶת
שְׁאֵלָתִי אֲשֶׁר שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵעִמּוֹ:

27] For this child I prayed;
and the LORD hath granted me my petition which I asked of Him;

A Knighthood for Andy Choudary

Just Love the Way Pat Condell "Tells It Like It Is"

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Former MK Aryeh Eldad on Ariel Sharon's Passing

Aryeh Eldad is a Good and Honest Man~He Sums Up Sharon's "Legacy" Nicely...

The Holocaust Documentary~Script by Alfred Hitchcock

I decided to bring this film forward. Memories fade with time and there are those who would rather not remember at all.

There was no place for these survivors to go. They had nothing, entire families were lost, their home countries did not want them, they were sick. For these people, Jews, there was no UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency~Which is For "Palestinian Arabs" Only). The Jews were on their own.

For many, the only hope was to make their way to the Holy Land~in those days known as British Mandate Palestine. The British, sided with the Arab hordes and turned Jews away. This time, the Jews decided to fight back~an the rest (as they say) was history.

In April 1945, a number of camera crews accompanied the American, Canadian and British armies as they entered the death camps in the Rhineland. There, they filmed the grisly horror of the Nazi Death/Concentration camps. The film was stored in the archives of the imperial war museum in London. 

The directors, who included Alfred Hitchcock, developed a script to go with the film, but the resulting documentary remained unfinished~hidden for decades because it was deemed unsuitable and unfit for viewing by the general public. This is the unedited version which was presented by Frontline. The film is grainy and in some parts there is no sound--because This is REAL!

These are the horrors that took place during WWII. These are facts! Those who deny need to watch carefully. Those who remained untouched, have perhaps lost their humanity.

We Cannot Let the World Forget, or it Will Happen Again~Look at Our World Today...

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Reminiscing: When Night Clubs Meant Elegance And...

Performers Were Talented, Not Naked~Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers (1:34)

Amazing~Nobody Can Compare to Their Talent...

Israel, Jerusalem, Judaism, Zionism, Middle East, Aliyah, Conversion, and everything else that pops up