Rona Ramon was born in 1964 and grew up in Kiryat Ono. Her parents immigrated from Turkey through “Aliyat Hanoar” to fulfill their dream of raising a family in Israel based on Zionist values and the love of Israel.
In her military service, she served as a paramedic and upon her release enrolled for her BA in physical education from the Wingate Institute.
She met her husband Ilan Ramon while she was at school. The two fell in love and got promptly married. Their family comprised: 3 boys and a girl – Assaf, Tal, Yiftach and Noa. During his military service in the Air Force, Ilan was chosen to be the first Israeli Astronaut
In 1998 the Ramon family moved to Houston, Texas. Rona accompanied Ilan through his rigorous training in NASA and helped him choose what items to take with him on the Columbia shuttle: “It was very important to us to ensure that any personal success transferred into a national success and to enable all Israelis to take participate in this amazing mission to space’, she said in her lectures.
Together they chose to take to space several items that are symbolic of Israel: the scroll of independence, a Torah scroll received from Prof. Yoachim Yosef, with which he made “Aliya latora” as a Jewish child in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, a mezuzah, a flag of the Israel Air Force and the Israeli flag.
On February 2003 the worst of all happened. The Columbia shuttle, with all of its team members, crashed on its way to earth.
Rona wouldn’t and didn’t allow her grief to overtake her and soon set out to commemorate her late husband with educational Zionist activities.
In 2008 Rona began to build the Ramon Programs within the Ministry of Science, which led to dozens of educational social projects: such as the space research olympics, about 15 scientific centers in the social and geographical periphery and numerous scholarships to outstanding researchers. Rona regularl said: “I have no interest in building bricks and stones to commemorate my loved ones but rather commemorating their spirit through education”.
In addition, Rona initiated with the Israeli Space Agency and the Fisher Institute the Annual Ilan Ramon International Space Conference. This conference became the central event of the Israeli space community. Its speakers and guests featured the world’s progress in space exploration and the spin off practical applications for society and highlighted Israeli activities and innovations.
Thanks to Rona’s work, astronauts annually arrive in Israel coinciding with the date chosen for the Ilan Ramon memorial ceremony and at Rona’s request, to also visit schools on the periphery to spark interest and inspiration among children from all over the country. Rona would say: “this was Ilan’s will”. Rona was also one of the founders of “Israel Space Week” in which every year. tens of thousands of children throughout the country participate in a number of special programs
On September 2009, a few days before “Rosh Hashana”, Captain Assaf Ramon, Rona’s eldest son, was killed in a flight training accident. Like his father, Asaf fulfilled his dream to became an outstanding combat pilot in the Israeli Air Force. Weeks after his death, Rona opened his personal diary and read the phrase “my brothers and I were raised to inspire to fulfil our dreams based on the belief that each individual needs to find his own purpose”. According to Rona“That was the best compliment a mother can get – that her children aspire to fulfil their dreams in Israel – whether it’s through music, aviation or technology. This sentence became Rona’s main mission in life – to inspire children in Israel to develop within themselves values and capabilities that can help them fulfil their dreams”.
In 2010, Rona founded the Ramon Foundation and became its President. The foundation encourages and promotes academic achievements and social involvement among youth – in the spirit of ??? image of Ilan and Asaf Ramon.
Among the foundation’s main activities: the Aviators club – a Social-ethical leadership program for 5th-8th grade students, in which Operational squadrons of the Israeli Air Force adopt schools from the periphery. The pilots and a professional social leader from the Ramon Foundation accompany the children for two years using close escorting??? and meeting along the year, the Ramon Space Lab program which gives students a unique opportunity to submit an experiment to the International Space Station through an annual research-based learning program and many more educational programs. “Nothing warms my heart more than seeing pilots from the Air Force volunteer and assist children who need a good word and inspiration”.
More than 100,000 children take part in the different program Rona has initiated. In addition, Rona founded alongside The Joint Council of Pre-Military Academies, the “Beit Asaf”.
Rona Ramon, who researched grief, had a Master’s degree in holistic therapy from Lesley University in the USA and gave lectures and treated families who experienced loss in order to strengthen them. In 2013 she published the book: “Above Us is Only the Sky”. It is a collection of Ramon journals, letters, pictures and memories.
On 2016 Rona was selected to light the Beacon of Independence at the formal ceremony on Mount Hertzl under the title: Israeli Heroism.
Rona Ramon was an inspirational woman who served as role model for many men and women in Israel and around the world.
Her vast activities made a huge impact on the development of Israeli society and as well as its scientific progress. She created leadership with values among students and made Israeli solidarity stronger.
With her outgoing personality she provided magic to those who followed her, filling them with a positive belief in their future.
Even though she endured a huge personal grief, and despite the dual tragedy, Rona chose a life full of meaning – to live the most meaningful life possible as an role model for generations to come.