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More than 100 people attended a ceremony in Rehovot on Tuesday to dedicate a garden in the memory of ORT graduate Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Keren Tendler, the first woman to be killed in action since the Yom Kippur War.
Tendler, the only female flight mechanic in the IAF, was killed along with four others while performing reserve service when their helicopter was shot down by Hizbullah near Yater, Lebanon, on August 12, 2006.
She was survived by her parents and a younger brother.
Joining Tendler's family at the ceremony were her comrades, senior Israel Air Force officers, Rehovot Mayor Shuki Forer, Shifra Cohen, director of the Yad Lebanim parents' organization for fallen soldiers, and representatives of World ORT, the world's largest Jewish educational and vocational training nongovernmental organization.
The ceremony featured Israeli pop song "Keren Ohr" (Ray of Light), whose lyrics are engraved on a plaque alongside a summary of Tendler's life at the garden in her native Rehovot. The one-acre garden is situated next to the military cemetery where Tendler is buried. The paths through the garden form the Hebrew letters "kuf" and "tet" - her initials.
Tendler's mother, Rivana, said the garden, which was sponsored by ORT together with the Rehovot Municipality and Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises, was the best possible memorial for her daughter.
"I don't have enough words to express my gratitude to ORT. The garden combines Keren's love of sport with her love for helicopters as it contains fitness equipment and a plaque telling her life story, featuring an engraving of the helicopter she flew," Rivana Tendler said.
Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, head of World ORT's International Liaison Department, said: "Even though ORT is 127 years old and Keren was just 26, she naturally embodied the original ideals and values from which the organization was born and which inspire us today. She proved that with the right education you can achieve incredible things. Her legacy will give others the chance to do the same. Many more young women, for years to come, will walk through doors that Keren opened."