Eliezer Wolferman, father of Ilan Ramon, dies

Wolferman's establishment of a flight center on Moshav Sdeh Teman piqued his astronaut son's interest at an early age.

Eliezer Wolferman, 83, the father of Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who piqued his son's interest in flying by establishing a flight center on Moshav Sdeh Teman where he came after surviving the Holocaust, was laid to rest Monday evening in Omer. Wolferman was thrust into the spotlight upon his son's death on February 1, 2003, when Ramon was killed while serving as a member of the seven-member crew aboard the Columbia shuttle, which broke up upon reentry to the Earth's atmosphere after a 17-day mission. Born in Germany, Wolferman moved here and established the flight center on the moshav, where he would often take young Ilan, the future air force pilot and astronaut. Together they watched planes, planting the seeds for Ilan's love of flying. The day of his son's scheduled return to Earth, Wolferman watched the flight at the Channel 2 television station. Omer municipal council head Pini Badash's spokesman Nir Nissim recalled that after watching the tragedy of his son's death unfold, Wolferman went home accompanied by Badash, who fielded condolence calls from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and then OC Air Force Dan Halutz. Nissim said Wolferman was an ardent Zionist who loved the South, a leader and a man of dignity, modesty and intelligence. In his eulogy for his son, whom he would speak of with a saddened sense of pride, Wolferman compared him to Moses in character. However, Ramon's father distinguished between them by noting that while Moses saw the Promised Land but could not enter, Ilan not only saw his promised land, outer space, but was able to enter it, sadly never to return.