By COLlive reporter
Rona Ramon, who lost both a husband and son in uniform to accidents and dedicated her remaining years to inspiring the younger generation to reach their potential, passed away.
She was 54 and battled with cancer.
Ramon was the widow of Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut who was the space shuttle payload specialist of STS-107, the fatal mission of Columbia, in which he and six other crew members were killed in a there-entry accident.
He was close with Rabbi Zvi Konikov, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Space & Treasure Coasts in Florida which serves Jewish space agency personnel and their families.
During that trip, Ilan Ramon took with him the first Jewish symbols into space, kosher food, kiddush and Shabbos. He is the only foreign recipient of the United States Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Ramon was survived by his wife Rona and their four children, who were in Florida at the time of the accident. Their eldest son, Captain Asaf Ramon, was killed on September 13, 2009, aged 21, during a routine training flight while piloting his F-16A, 3 months after graduating from the IAF flight school as the top cadet in his class.
Inspired by Ilan and Assaf, Rona Ramon went on to establish The Ramon Foundation “to give support, love and encouragement to the younger generation; to reach their potential; fulfill their dreams; and contribute to society.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed the deep sorrow he and his wife Sara felt at her passing, “Rona withstood heroically the death of her husband and her son Assaf, of blessed memory,” he said.
“She fought cancer with the same heroism, we will always remember her and her amazing family,” Netanyahu said, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“She has taught us courage and choice in life,” mourned Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. He said that tears come to his eyes when he thinks about “her strong figure who has not let up with good deeds.”
In 2012, she addressed participants of the Land and the Spirit mission to Israel, organized by Chabad’s Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) during which she was awarded the “Visionary of the Year” award.
Chabad Rabbis noted her “dedication and commitment to promoting and inspiring scientific excellence and leadership among future generations in Israel through the Ramon Foundation.”
At that event, Ramon spoke about how her husband felt the responsibility to represent all Jews, and that this was part of his legacy she was devoted to carrying forward.