"An average person would have withdrawn into his sorrow and given up, but not Rona. With great nobility she was able to rise from the tempest and show us all the meaning of courage, faith, and choosing life." - Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein
The WIZO movement worldwide, bows its head to honour the life and memory of Rona Ramon z"l, the widow of Israel's first astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon z"l, who passed away yesterday at the age of 54, after a long battle with cancer. Rona z"l was a public activist who supported education and advancement of youth in Israel. She was an amazing woman and an inspiration. May her memeory be blessed.
Since the news broke yesterday, the whole country is in mourning. tributes are flowing in from all over the country and the world. All news and current affairs programmes opened their editions wih items honouring her memory. One word appeared in all interviews and eulogies - the word light. Inspite of all the tragedy, sorrow and unhappiness she personally experienced, she brought light and hope into the lives of others.
President Reuven Rivlin honoured her memory by saying that: “Ilan and Assaf touched the heavens; Rona touched our hearts.”
Her life was plagued by tragedy. Her husband Ilan Ramon, an Israeli Air Force pilot who took part in the bombing of Iraq's unfinished Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, was killed in the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003. Their son, Capt. Assaf Ramon, also an IAF pilot, was killed in a training accident in 2009. He was laid to rest in the cemetery in Nahalal, where his father was buried. She didn't allow her younger sons to serve as pilots.
Following Assaf’s death, she began to read his diary and found an entry stating how proud he and his siblings were that their parents had educated them to know that each should have a dream and should aspire to make that dream a reality.
It was then that she reached the decision that she had to do something meaningful and substantial to preserve both the memories and the values of her husband and son. Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis said that: “We lost a heroic and noble woman. During our three-year-long acquaintance, I got a close-up view of the spectacular work she did in honouring the memory of her late husband"
She channeled her grief into a series of educational and social projects. She founded the Ramon Foundation, which strives to provide the young Israeli generation with "academic excellence, social leadership and groundbreaking courage."
In addition, due to her close connection with what is known as “the NASA family,” became the ambassador for Israeli space research and was able to bring NASA’s top astronauts to Israel to participate in annual space and science conferences.
Having researched the different manners with which people cope with loss, she gave lectures and workshops and treated individuals for years, using her personal story as an example and inspiration to many.
On Independence Day 2016, Rona Ramon was among the torchbearers at the annual ceremony on Mount Herzl.
Last September, Ramon laid the cornerstone for a pre-military preparatory programme in, which was named after her husband. The pre-military academy will be named after her son Assaf. Earlier this year she attended the Cornerstone Ceremony of the Ilan and Assaf Ramon Airport: under construction in the Timna Valley. It will replace Eilat Airport, handle all civilian flights currently using Ovda Airport, and serve as a diversion airport for Israel's primary airport - Ben Gurion Airport. The ceremony was brought forward due to her illness.
May G-d comfort her family among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and grant them good health and longevity.
With sincere feelings,
President, World WIZO