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Filling Asaf Ramons Void

Filling Asaf Ramons Void

The death of Asaf Ramon is a shocking national tragedy.


The news on Sunday sent shock waves throughout Israel and the Jewish world:

Asaf Ramon was killed in an air force training exercise.Ilan Ramon

In this small country where every casualty hits close to home, this was particularly shocking.

The Ramon family was Israel's Cinderella story.

It was Asaf's father, Ilan Ramon, who electrified Israel by becoming its first astronaut - and who tragically died in the Columbia space shuttle disaster six years ago.

It was Asaf's father who brought Jewish values to the international stage by reciting Kiddush while orbiting the earth and by eating Kosher food in outer space.

It was Asaf's father - the child of Holocaust survivors - who had defended our country with a daring strike on Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, declaring that "If I can prevent a second Holocaust, I am ready to sacrifice my life."

So when Asaf Ramon chose the dangerous - but privileged - path of a pilot in the Israeli Air Force, a nation eager for redemption watched in anticipation of the son filling his father's void.

We watched with awe last year as Asaf successfully navigated a fighter jet whose engines had quit.

And then in May, we stood in admiration as Asaf Ramon graduated as valedictorian of his cadet's class.

Ilan Ramon's legacy was resurrected. The void had been filled.

So when the news came this week of Asaf's tragic crash in the Hebron Hills, our nation was plunged into double-grief. Grief over the loss of this bright young star, and grief over the loss - once again - of the Ramon family's magical story.

Rosh Hashana Message

When comforting mourners, the traditional Jewish words of condolence are: "May God comfort you amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem." Here, the Hebrew reference to God is an usual word, Hamakom - literally, The Place. The message is that when a person dies, it is up to us to identify their unique contribution - their "place" in the Grand Eternal Plan. And then, the more we endeavor to fill that place, the more God will bring us comfort.

Ilan Ramon's "place" was as Israel's ambassador to the world.

Asaf Ramon's "place" was to restore the legacy of one small country - defending itself, all the while reaching beyond to touch the stars.

In Hebrew, the word "Asaf" means to "gather." To pick up the scattered pieces and bring them together into a new, beautiful whole.

When I spoke with Ilan Ramon shortly before his space shuttle flight, he emphasized the need for the people of Israel to come together in unity for a common purpose.

On Rosh Hashana, each of us is asked if we are prepared to use the coming year to the fullest. Will we bring our potential to fruition?

This year, we must redouble our commitment to fill the aching void that Asaf Ramon's death has left behind - to unite in achieving our national mission, and truly be a light unto each other, and unto all the nations.

September 14, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 28

(28) Rebecca Witonsky, December 10, 2009 4:28 AM

condolences to Ramon family

I send my deepest and most heartfelt condolence to the Ramon family which has suffered two horrific losses of a father and son in such a short time of three years. My heart goes out to Ramon's widow who is forced to bury her husband and son. Her pain and loss is felt by the whole Jewish nation.

(27) Ramon ben Shomer, October 12, 2009 6:47 PM

The name Ramon has a interesting interpretation. It means Mighty Protector. so by vitue of the name I salute this person for all what he has done for Israel. so not only the legacy of the name but the legacy of this family be forever remembered by all who believe in the State of Israel. The verse to the name is Habbakuk 2:1

(26) Anny Matar, September 22, 2009 4:00 PM


We all mourn and light at memorial candle in front of the Ramon house. We live in the same suburb but we don't find a way to share in this terrible loss. No one can ease such pain and the title of this article " who can fill this void" the answer is NO ONE. Asaf was a bright and shining star in the firmament and there is no one and not a thing which can replace such a wonderful human being. In my mind's eye I see Ilan flying with open arms in the spaceship, as though he were embracing the world with his shining light, now I see him taking his son into his arms, holding him safe and tight - but those left behind can feel the void only.

(25) Cleide Souza, September 20, 2009 5:22 PM

Dear family Ramon God bless you,Illan and Asaf was exemple israeli citizen,we love Israel.cleide from Brasil.

(24) Goko Trajkoski, September 20, 2009 8:28 AM

Tears and hope

This is very sad news. I hope that their sacrifice will be eternal shinning star amongst the heroes of IDF.

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