The 10th of Tevet commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, which eventually led to the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. People fast because of something that happened 2,606(!) years ago. Why? Because we are a part of a larger story.
Thousands of years later, the 10th of Tevet was also chosen to be the day when a general Kaddish is said for Holocaust victims whose day of passing is not known. We mourn those who have not even merited to have a grave and yahrzeit – because we are part of a great story.
This year, on this sad day, we received news of the passing of Rona Ramon z”l, wife of Ilan Ramon, z”l, and mother of Asaf Ramon, z”l. I met her recently together with youth from the leadership program that she established to commemorate her husband and son. Rona was energetic and optimistic and told us that Ilan did not go on his space mission as a private man. He took with him into space an Israeli flag, a small Bible, a coin from the Great Revolt against the Romans, and a Torah Scroll that was saved from the Holocaust.
“This item especially moves me,” Ilan said from his spaceship, “because this is what connects us to each other and it attests to our ability to survive any crisis.”
Rona told us, “Ilan found out when Shabbat started in outer space and also took with him the words of the Kiddush. Because he wasn’t only there on an Israeli Air Force mission; he was also there on a mission on behalf of the Jewish people.”
We are part of a great story.