As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Apollo Mission to the Moon, the brave astronauts, BUZZ ALDRIN, ……. and remember, vividly, of watching that event unfold on TV, if you’re old enough, then we should also applaud President Trump’s commitment to fund NASA for the next chapter of this big adventure—more travel to the moon, with missions to Mars, and protecting our multi-trillion dollars in space a certain goal.
As a president of the private foundation in Beverly Hills, created by Mike Savage, of blessed memory, and dedicated to promoting tolerance between people of all religion, skin color and ethnic background, Mike was determined to fund a memorial to the Challenger astronauts, who perished during the 1986 tragedy. It was a broad reminder of how people should just get along. I was privileged to be part of his vision, while he was busy executing Mergers and Acquisitions.
We developed a program, with full cooperation from the public relations department at NASA, to educate school children on the wonders of space travel, stressing how important basic math, science, and reading skills were, and that they might grow up to be astronauts, and how there was no room for bullying or bigotry on the International Space Station.
NASA provided us with 8×10 photos of the ethnically diverse collection of astronauts, both those in training, and those set to be launched. We had baseball card sized photos of the men and women in the space program, with their bios on the back. We held programs at public schools, private schools, and my synagogue in Woodland Hills, KOL TIKVAH, where I also served on the Board.
The kids went crazy to hear about the rigorous training, courage and sense of adventure it took to be accepted by NASA.
Of course, of special interest to me and others with the privilege of getting to know him personally, was Ilan Roman, the first Israeli astronaut. His modest demeanor and handsome appearance contributed to the awe he inspired, as did his background as a fighter pilot with the Israel Air Force. He was wing man on the daring 1981 Iraq mission, led by Brig. General ISRAEL RELIK SHAFIR, which took out the Osiris nuclear weapons plant before it could produce a single bomb.
I was also active in the “1939” Club, a group of Holocaust Survivors, their children and American supporters. ILAN RAMON was an invited guest speaker, and became a symbol of modern Israel, the cooperation with the US, through NASA, and the advances in aircraft and high tech which have been vital to every modern nation.
We invited Astronaut Ramon to speak at Temple Kol Tikvah when he returned from space. He agreed, and had been deluged by handwritten letters and crayon cards from the students.
We even had an invitation from JPL to bus the students into their facility and talk to the current crew of the International Space Station directly. Thankfully, it wasn’t in our budget.
My fiance, Nathan Shapell, the legendary builder and Auschwitz Survivor, also on the Board of the US HOLOCAUST MUSEUM in Washington, DC, and I were invited to be a part of the welcoming ceremony when members of the Challenger space craft returned, re-entering earth’s atmosphere and the space craft could be picked up at sea. Luckily we didn’t go. It was heartbreaking enough to watch it on television.
RAMON’S family was there, his wife and four children, like the other astronaut families and friends, waiting for the triumphal return.
When the space craft disappeared from radar, some four minutes…like an eternity…Ramon’s four year old daughter, held in her mother’s lap, turned with a child’s wisdom, and said, “Mommy, Aba’s not coming home.”
Instead of celebration there was tragedy.
The US space program has been a continuous learning experience, with hundreds of thousands of people invested with their life’s work on the ground, while the exceptional individuals put themselves in the unknown frontier of space.
I traveled to Israel in February 2003, and delivered hand written condolence cards to Ramon’s family, which I delivered to an Israel Air Force representative.
It was also the “unofficial opening” of the ISRAEL AIR FORCE CENTER, in Herzliya, a project I’ve been a volunteer fundraiser for since the year 2000.
President Ezer Weizman hung the mezuzah on the door with former Air Force Commander, JOCHAI SCHNEIDER, and had the privilege of sharing the event with leaders of the ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES, including Eli Shalit, who founded the ISRAEL NAVY. hHs family was in the shipping business, so it came natural to him to decide what watercraft would be necessary.
The pain of losing our dear friend, and his fellow crew members was a blow through the heart.
Later, the remains of the astronauts, would be found, including those of Ramon, and a burnt fragment of the Israel Flag he’d carried with him in space, with the blue and white Mogen David, still visible. These were returned to his widow, Rona.
The flag fragment was given to the IAF (Israel Air Force) Center for a special, incredibly moving display.
Recovering from such a loss was an emotional drain, but now, in 2019, its important to realize how essential space travel is, protecting our satellites and electronic grid system, cyber-security and the endless learning experience of true pioneers. That’s why I’m launching SPACE FORCE 101, a program for young kids who must learn that as cool as space travel may sound, it takes dicipline to really get there.
The old lessons, do well in school, math, science and learning to properly read are essential. Moreover keeping yourself reasonably physically fit is just as important.
Sadly, some 30 per cent of the young men and women who apply to serve our nation in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines are disqualified as overweight or otherwise unable to perform in a demanding, combat situation.
I will invite some of these children to visit Israel, and see how the high tech industry has not only helped pilots from the IAF successfully re-integrate into civilian society, but youth at risk are encouraged by the IAF Center to explore promising career opportunities, all linked to our future, in space.
I’m privileged to be working with STEVE BARBER, VANILLA FIRE producer, director, and developer of several ACADEMY AWARD nominated documentaries, including those about WWII, the heroes, the Apollo space program, and now the KALMON ARON project, INTO THE LIGHT, which tells the story of the HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR’S journey from his childhood ordeal of shipment between 7 Nazi death camps, including Berkinau-Belson, and his eventual rise to National Heritage Artist. His portrait of President Ronald Reagan hangs in the REAGAN LIBRARY. His portrait of me is a forever gift hanging on my wall.
Cheryl Kane, is a best selling author, socialite, political humorist, financial planner and a Leader of the RJC Republican Jewish Coalition. She lives in Los Angeles with a lot of dogs
Cheryl Kane is represented exclusively by Edward Lozzi & Associates Beverly Hills California