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Ramon's Piano

Tal Ramon, Israeli pianist and son of astronaut Ilan Ramon (Photo: talramon.bandcamp.com)

Israel has produced countless heroes, many of whom have lost their lives. Two such heroes were part of Tal Ramon's family - his father was Israel's first astronaut, while his brother was an IAF fighter pilot. Tablet's Tal Miller and Yoav Sivan tell the story of how this talented young musician with a powerful legacy has used his family's piano - itself a relic of the Holocaust - to work through his grief:

In 1974, 20-year-old Ilan Ramon, a recent graduate of the IDF flight school who would go on to become Israel’s first astronaut, bought a Steinway piano that had once had its home in Germany during World War II. Ramon, the son of a piano teacher who survived Auschwitz, spent his entire first paycheck on it. This piano symbolized the survival of the Jewish people—a people that could make new melodies in the homeland.

The piano is now at the Tel Aviv apartment of Ilan’s second son, Tal, who just released his first album, Character (Dmut in Hebrew). “The piano gave birth to this album,” he said in a recent interview in Hebrew in his Tel Aviv apartment, “which I dedicate to my father and to Assaf.”

Why the dedication? Every Israeli is bound to be familiar with his family story. Israel rejoiced when Ramon’s father, Ilan, the youngest fighter pilot to take part in the strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, became the nation’s first astronaut following a sweetheart deal President Bill Clinton struck with Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1995, shortly after Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. Joy gave way to grief when in 2003 Ilan was killed in his first space mission along with the other six crew members of the Columbia space shuttle. He was laid to rest in the military cemetery in Moshav Nahalal in the Jezreel Valley, near the Ramat David air-force base where he was previously stationed...

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