Sunday, March 31, 2013

Connecting Ilan Ramon with Yom Hashoa

I'm beginning to wonder -- is the social media age distancing kids from the past? It seems that today's life is only about the here and now. During my recent trip to Houston I found out that my 22 year-old Texas cousin had no idea who were Wyatt Earp or Wild Bill Hickok. I was astounded, but he had a good answer: "Our generation is part of the space frontier." 

I shrugged my shoulders, thinking it's all part of a changing America. However, at a family seder in Long Island I met a young married woman -- a college graduate -- who never heard of Ilan Ramon and gave me a quizzical look when I mentioned the Columbia space shuttle.

She may be an isolated case; nonetheless....We are a people that believes in collective memory. It's part of our Jewish identity and should remain firmly in place. Purim teaches us to remember Amalek. Unfortunately, we've had numerous variations on that theme. Yom Hashoah is part of the pantheon. 

How does this tie in with Ilan Ramon? This year marked the 10th anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia's crash. PBS recently aired a documentary entitled "Mission of Hope". Lo and behold they brought up the remarkable story of the tiny Torah scroll which Ilan Ramon brought with him into outer space. The story of the Bar Mitzvah in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp using this Torah scroll is the tale that I researched and retold in my award-winning book "Keeping the Promise. It is the right story for this year's Yom Hashoa commemoration. It is a homage to the Jewish spirit and pays tribute to Ilan Ramon -- a hero in Israel long before his space adventure, the son of Holocaust survivors and a proud Jew who took additional Jewish and Holocaust memorabilia on board the shuttle. "Keeping the Promise" has also been translated into Hebrew and both are available through Kar-Ben. Reading the two side-by-side will enhance your Hebrew lessons, and your students' reading and speaking skills.

Wishing you a meaningful Yom Hashoah.

No comments:

Post a Comment