Hello and welcome
to Israel Day,
I am ILAN RAMON, the first Israeli in space.  I was born in Israel in 1954.  I graduated as a fighter pilot from the Israel Air Force (IAF) Flight School and served as a Colonel and fighter pilot.   I was also trained in the United States Air Force.  At the age of 33, I returned to school in Israel and earned my Bachelor of Science degree in electronics and computer engineering. 

My life changed when I went from flying planes to training for the NASA Space Shuttle “Columbia.”  I was the first astronaut on a NASA flight to request kosher food.  I also brought on to the shuttle a miniature copy of the TorahIt was an honor to serve aboard the Columbia because I was representing all Jews and all Israelis.  Sadly, our flight ended abruptly on February 1, 2003.  The Columbia was destroyed and everything and everyone of us perished, including the original "Moon Landscape,” a pencil sketch, drawn by 14-year-old Petr Ginz, who died in Auschwitz.

After my death, I continue to be remembered as a hero.  I was given many awards, and even had an asteroid and a hill on the planet Mars named in my honor.  Despite the tragedy of the Columbia explosion, my death brought Americans and Israelis together, and I became a symbol of bravery and commitment to science.

I thank the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia (http://www.jewishphilly.org) and Theatre Ariel, the Jewish Theatre of Philadelphia (http://www.theatreariel.org) for the opportunity to interact with you.  Feel free to contact them, get actively involved, and check the Internet for more information on my life.  Thank you, Godspeed, and SHALOM—till next year in Jerusalem. 

Yours truly,
Ilan Ramon,
walking among you, with the hope that you will share this information with ALL your friends

Henrik Eger, 2007