Asaf and Ilan Ramon to be guiding stars for Kadima Mada kids


23 September 2009 Asaf and Ilan Ramon to be guiding stars for Kadima Mada kids World ORT is seeking to broaden its educational projects in the memory of Israels first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, to include his son, Asaf, who died tragically this month in a plane crash. The whole of Israel went into shock at the news of the 21-year-old fighter pilots death in an air force training accident just six years after his father perished aboard the space shuttle Columbia. Among them were staff members at World ORTs office in Israel who had enjoyed a pre-Rosh Hashana lchaim with Ilan Ramons widow, Rona, only days before. Working closely with her old friend, the Head of World ORTs Representative Office in Israel, Rony Kalinsky, Mrs Ramon has helped to ensure that children at the schools participating in World ORTs Kadima Mada programme would benefit from the kind of educational projects which she had initiated throughout the country in her late husbands memory. Rona Ramon with Kiryat Yam Mayor Shmuel Sisso join children at the inaugural World ORT Space and Science Seminar last year. This is how the annual Ilan Ramon Memorial Science and Space Seminar, together with the Space Research Competition, came to be, said Mr Kalinsky, who laid a wreath at Asaf Ramons funeral. When I took on this role at World ORT two years ago it was obvious to me that we had to be a significant partner in these commemorative activities due to the values that Ilan Ramon embodied as a person, as a fighter pilot, as a scientist, and as someone born in the periphery of Israel, he added. It is now more important than ever that our Ilan Ramon memorial projects continue to flourish. Our new educational challenge is how best to interweave the death of his son, Asaf, as an example to the younger generation. We want to enable them to appreciate the qualities of excellence, humility and humanity propagated by both father and son which can then serve as their guiding star in life. World ORTs first Ilan Ramon Memorial Science and Space Seminar took place at Kiryat Yam on January 31, 2008 the day before the anniversary of the death of Israels first astronaut. At the memorial service which started the days space-related activities for some 200 schoolchildren, Mrs Ramon remarked how the event had made it easier for her to cope with what was always a difficult time of year for her. When I look around and see all these young people and see how interested they are in learning about science and space I know that Ilan would have been very happy. And that makes me happy, too, she said. Her sentiments were echoed in January this year when Ilan Ramons brother, Gadi, participated. Ilan would be happy to know that there is something like Kadima Mada which not only shares his values but passes them on to new generations, he said. Who knows, perhaps some of the students taking part will become astronauts, too Over the past two years, the Seminar has inspired hundreds of Israeli high school students by bringing them up close and personal with pioneers of the final frontier. Senior NASA physician Dr Smith Johnston, NASA astronauts Captain Michael Lopez Alegria, Sunita William and Gerhardt Thieli, and NASA scientist Nagin Cox are among those who have shared their knowledge of space and science with the children. As Ben Malka, a student from Beer Sheva, said at last years event: Activities like this encourage us to learn about science. Mr Kalinsky said that the hearts of World ORT staff in Israel were with the Ramon family. And, with the financial support of World ORT donors, we are professionally committed to continuing the science and space activities which the family has inspired and, in so doing, enhance interest in the study of science and recognition of Ilan and Asaf Ramon as role models, he said.