One thing that has always amazed me about Israel is how connected the people are. It doesn't seem to matter where you come from, who you are, how religious you are or anything. If you live in Israel, you are part of "us". This never ceases to amaze me.
Last night in Ulpan we were discussing a text on the H1N1 virus when my teacher got a phone call from her daughter. Her demeanor immediately changed, and the look on her face was pained. We all immediately thought there had been a terror attack or something of sort, but when she got off the phone she couldn't even talk. After a minute she composed herself, and told us that Assaf Ramon was rumored to have been killed in a plane crash.
I knew that Assaf Ramon was the son of the Israeli astronaut who was killed six years ago when the Columbia exploded, and the fact that now his mother had to deal with another sudden death was upsetting. But why was my teacher taking this so personally?
She explained to us, constantly repeating that she hoped this information was false, that Israel had stood by the Ramon family six years ago, and watched Assaf and the rest of his family take the news and honor their father. Assaf chose to follow his fathers footsteps, became a pilot and had passed the rigorous training of the IDF. He stood for the Israeli mindset of getting back up on your feet, always feeling pride for your country and being willing to put your life on the line for it. Though no one I talked to knew the Ramon family personally, they are all treating this death as a personal blow. And I love that about Israel.