Today (February 1, 201) marks the 10th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, a tragic accident that claimed the lives of seven astronauts, including an Israeli named Ilan Ramon.
Ramon, a colonel in the Israel Air Force, was the mission's payload specialist. An Israeli fighter pilot who participated in Operation Opera, the 1981 raid that destroyed the unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor, he was also the son of Holocaust survivors.
Ramon carried many Jewish items into space, among them a drawing of the earth as seen from the moon, sketched by a child who died in Terezin.
Perhaps most important was a small Torah he took with him. It originally belonged to Joachim "Yoya" Joseph, the Israeli scientist working with him on the mission. Joseph got it from a rabbi in Bergen-Belsen who performed a secret bar mitzvah for him. The rabbi insisted that Joseph let the world know what happened to the Jewish people, which is why he let Ramon take this precious cargo into space.
A film about Ramon will air next week in the Washington area. The film tells the inspiring story Ramon's journey and the miraculous story of the miniature holocaust Torah which accompanied hin on the mission.
The film, entitled "Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope," will be broadcast on the local PBS Channel MPT 22 and MPT HD at 9:00 P.M. on February 5, 2013.
The film will be also broadcasted on the PBS network throughout the country starting on January 31. For more information about the film and scheduled broadcasts in the US: