by Reverend Michael Plaskow MBE
Technology has given us the ability to fly outside Earth. Now, his mortal remains have been returned to Mother Earth in a moshav called Nahalal.
When I visited the Beit Olam, (Cemetery) it was for the express purpose of seeing the kever (Grave) of Moshe Dayan. What I did not know was the fact that just a few feet away in the military part of the Beit Olam is the kever of Colonel Ilan Ramon.
Inscribed in large Hebrew words "The First Israeli Astronaut". Engraved are the words the "Spacecraft Colombia" and its number and Ramon's official military badge and number. A little box outside says, "Michtavim L'Ilan" (Letters for Ilan).
This hero travelled millions of miles in airplanes and a spacecraft. He was one of the few who travelled outside this planet. I was so moved to be at his kever. Now in a very peaceful setting, I was standing alone next to his kever and reciting a memorial prayer for him. That moment belonged to me and I did not take it for granted. It emphasized something I already knew. Technology has given mankind the ability to fly outside Earth. Yet, ultimately, we are all consigned to Mother Earth.
How moved I was to have stood alone by his grave. Now in a very peaceful setting I was standing by his tombstone reciting a memorial prayer. I will always treasure that moment for it belonged to me.
What is the lesson that we can learn from Ilan Ramon Z"L? My answer would be that we should never run down Jews who are not orthodox. Here was a supposed "secular" Jew who showed us and the world that he was committed to Hashem and to fulfilling his commandments. May his memory be for a blessing.