Memorial garden for ORT graduate Keren Tendler


August 06, 2007 Memorial garden for ORT graduate Keren Tendler More than 100 people attended a solemn but proud ceremony in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv, to dedicate a garden to the memory of the war heroine, ORT graduate Keren Tendler zl. Keren was the only female flight mechanic in the IDF and became the first female soldier to be killed in action outside Israel since the Yom Kippur War when her helicopter was shot down over Lebanon by Hezbollah on August 12 last year. Almost exactly a year later, Kerens family was joined by a large crowd including comrades from her squadron, senior Israeli Air Force officers, Rehovot Mayor Shuki Forer, the Director of Yad Lebanim (the parents organisation for fallen soldiers), Shifra Cohen, and representatives of World ORT. Rivana Tendler, Kerens mother, said the garden, which was co-sponsored by World ORT and ORT America together with the municipality of Rehovot and Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises Ltd, was the best possible commemoration of her daughter. The garden contains fitness equipment and a plaque telling her life story that features an engraving of the helicopter she flew. Keren was a runner and also an excellent swimmer so the garden combines her love of sport with her love for helicopters, Mrs Tendler said. And the large attendance at the dedication ceremony was a sign of the high esteem in which Keren is held, she added. Visibly moved, Keren Tendlers mother, Rivana, is comforted after the memorial garden dedication ceremony as her husband, Dan, looks on. The one-acre garden is sited next to the military cemetery where Keren is buried but it is also on a popular jogging route the same route that Keren used to run. In these ways, Gan Keren (Kerens Garden), is as much about Kerens life as it is about her untimely death, said the Head of World ORTs International Liaison Department, Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, who addressed the ceremony yesterday (Sunday). Even though ORT is 127 years old and Keren was just 26, she naturally embodied the original ideals and values from which the organisation was born and which inspire us today, Ms Gomes told the ceremony on behalf of World ORT President Sir Maurice Hatter, ORT America President Doreen Hermelin and World ORT Director General Robert Singer. She proved that with the right education you can achieve incredible things. Her legacy will give others the chance to do the same. Many more young women, for years to come, will walk through doors that Keren opened. Rivana Tendler addresses the ceremony. In life, Keren had been a trail blazer: she distinguished herself at school by joining and excelling in the male-dominated mechanics track and then becoming the IDFs only female flight mechanic. Five years ago Keren told the Israeli newspaper Maariv: My goal is to show other women that this position, an on-flight mechanic, can be performed by women. The ceremony also featured a performance of the famous Israeli pop song Keren Ohr (Ray of Light), the lyrics of which are engraved on a plaque next to Kerens life story. In addition, the paths through the garden form the Hebrew letters kuf and tet Kerens initials. The memorial garden was created under tremendous time constraints, said Rehovot Parks Manager Yossi Kfir. The goal was to have the garden ready in time for the first anniversary of Kerens death. However, even if that target had been missed, it would not have been possible to extend planting of the trees, bushes, flowers and grass beyond Rosh Hashana because next year in the Hebrew calendar is a shmita year (when Jewish-owned land in Israel is kept fallow). Mrs Tendler said that it had been a tremendous feat to have the garden ready on time. I dont have enough words to express my gratitude to World ORT and ORT America, without whose help I could not have accomplished this project, she said. From the beginning, World ORT was visiting my home and immediately offered assistance. Kol hakavod to World ORT! This has been an expression of Am Yisrael chai. Everyones treated us warmly and they felt our pain. Now, she said, she, her husband Dan, and son Nadav, had another place to visit in addition to Kerens grave where they could feel close to the daughter they lost. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.