US and Israel Partners in Grief


By Yoram Ettinger

PARTNERSHIP IN GRIEF AND FATE has been added to Shared Values, Mutual Threats and Joint Interests, binding together the leader of the Free World, the United States and its sole soul ally in the Mideast, Israel. As President George W. Bush said to Prime Minister Sharon, a few hours ago: "It is at moments such as these, that the hearts of the American and Israeli peoples beat as one."

It is most significance, that the shuttle tragedy has demonstrated President Bush’s and the late Col. Ilan Ramon’s high regard for Judeo-Christian values (per enclosed items).

Our prayers are with the families of the fallen US and Israeli astronauts. May their heroic mission be a modern day Pillar Of Fire, guiding our two nations toward unprecedented achievements for mankind, with renewed determination and tenacity.



President George W. Bush:

"My fellow Americans, this day has brought terrible news and great sadness to our country. At 9:00 a.m. this morning, Mission Control in Houston lost contact with our Space Shuttle Columbia. A short time later, debris was seen falling from the skies above Texas. The Columbia is lost; there are no survivors.

On board was a crew of seven: Colonel Rick Husband; Lt. Colonel Michael Anderson; Commander Laurel Clark; Captain David Brown; Commander William McCool; Dr. Kalpana Chawla; and Ilan Ramon, a Colonel in the Israeli Air Force. These men and women assumed great risk in the service to all humanity.

In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket, and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the Earth. These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more.

All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You’re not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country.

The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.

In the skies today we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see there is comfort and hope. IN THE WORDS OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH, "Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."

The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home.

May God bless the grieving families, and may God continue to bless America. January 31, 2003

Space Shuttle Crew Completes Israeli Dust and Cloud Studies


WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 — The Israeli experiment aboard the space shuttle Columbia has accomplished its goals of studying the effects of dust storms on weather and recording electrical phenomena atop storm clouds, scientists said today.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University said their Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment had gathered solid information on the plumes of dust and other aerosol particles blown from deserts by storms before being carried worldwide by high winds. The particles affect rain production in clouds, deposit minerals in the ocean and scatter sunlight that affects global warming, the scientists said.

"The experiment has worked without a hitch," Dr. Joachim Joseph, a principal investigator, told a briefing at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "We have very good data, very unique data."

A twin-camera multispectral instrument in the payload bay of the shuttle has been scanning desert particles whipped into the atmosphere and, at night, making images of the tops of some of the thousands of thunderstorms that rumble through the atmosphere every hour.

The shuttle, nearing the end of a 16-day mission, is to return to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Saturday with its crew of seven, including the first Israeli astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, a combat pilot in the Israeli Air Force.

The flight, which had been delayed almost two years, finally went into orbit at a time when storms in the Sahara that push dust into the Mediterranean Sea are infrequent. But researchers said luck was with them and they were able to obtain images of dust plumes. The first was made on Sunday, blowing from the western coast of Africa into the Atlantic. The big payoff was on Monday, on the last scheduled pass over the Mideast.

"On the last orbit over the Mediterranean," Dr. Joseph said, "we got a nice dust storm over Israel. "We just lucked out."

Israeli scientists said they had clear images of cloud-to-space lightning, called sprites, and the first scientific pictures recorded from space that show an elf, a luminous doughnut-shape electrical glow above a thunderstorm that lasts less than a millisecond.

Aside from the successful science, the mission is important to Dr. Joseph because COLONEL RAMON IS CARRYING A KEEPSAKE, A SMALL TORAH SCROLL USED AT DR. JOSEPH’S BAR-MITZVAH ALMOST 60 YEARS AGO, WHILE HE WAS IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP IN GERMANY. The elderly rabbi performing the ceremony, who died soon afterward in the camp, gave the Torah to the boy and told him to tell people what had occurred there.

Dr. Joseph said Colonel Ramon saw the Torah when visiting his house and was so moved by the history that he asked to take it into space as a tribute. In an interview from space last week with Israeli officials, the astronaut displayed the Torah.

"This represents more than anything the ability of the Jewish people to survive despite everything from horrible periods, black days, to reach periods of hope and belief in the future," the colonel said.

Because of the gesture from space, Dr. Joseph said, he feels he has finally fulfilled his promise to the rabbi.