First Israeli Astronaut Killed in Shuttle Crash

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

Before getting aboard the Columbia, Ilan Ramon said he felt like he was representing all Jewish people on his mission.

"There's enormous symbolism in all his life." Wausau Rabbi Dan Danson said. "His dad was a sabra, who was born in Israel. His mom was a Holocaust survivor, so he really encompasses a great deal of the history and of the Israeli state."

Colonel Ramon took with him a 60-year-old drawing done by a little boy at the Theresienstadt ghetto, a unique prison camp during World War II.

"It wasn't one of the camps, where people were exterminated." Danson said. "The inmates at Theresienstadt were allowed to do theater and art for that reason, it's a snapshot in the souls of people going through the Holocaust."

Col. Ilan Ramon served as a fighter pilot during the 70s, 80s and 90s. Israel selected him as the country's first astronaut in 1997.