February 25, 2020

Rona Ramon Wins Posthumous Israel Prize

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Rona Ramon, the 54-year-old widow of the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, posthumously won the Israel Prize on April 2.

Ramon founded the Israeli youth leadership nonprofit Ramon Foundation in 2010; her husband, Ilan Ramon died in 2003 when the Columbia space shuttle returned to Earth. Ramon’s son, 21-year-old Israeli Air Force Capt. Asaf Ramon, died in a 2009 training accident. Ramon herself died in December of pancreatic cancer.

“Rona Ramon is an Israeli hero full of giving and light,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said when he announced the award. “Despite losing two of those dearest to her, Rona chose life and devoted her life to working for society.”

The Ramon family said in a statement, “Our mother was able to take a life which was painful and turn it to a life-long mission that gives other people hope,” adding that the award “does carry a lot of pride.”

Shoham Nicolet, co-founder and CEO of the Israeli-American Council, said in a statement, “The Israeli-American Council offers a heartfelt mazal tov to the family of Rona Ramon, who was an inspiration and shining example of strength for the Jewish people. Her legacy continues through our IAC Gvanim Ramon leadership program, named for Rona Ramon and created to empower Israeli-American and Jewish American female leaders. Rona Ramon’s values endure in the women of IAC Gvanim Ramon, who carry the torch of leadership and community building. We could not think of someone more fitting to receive the Israel Prize.”