In just a few months, we will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, so this would be a greaet time to look back on Jews in space.

No, not the Mel Brooks version. I’m talking about bona fide Jewish astronauts who have translated the ancient, ways of our people into a passion for exploration among the stars.
—————-moon landing—————-

bori in helmetboris uniform
Boris Volynov

Cosmonaut Boris Volynov was the first Jew (by his mother, Evgeniya Izrailevna Volynova ) in space. His mother, was a honored doctor of Russia. Her Jewish background hindered selection of Volynov for space missions. His numerous medal awards include:

  • Twice Hero of the Soviet Union
  • Two Orders of Lenin
  • Order of the Red Star
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    Judith A.Resnik (Ph.D.) NASA Astronaut (Deceased). Born April 5, 1949, in Akron, Ohio. Died January 28, 1986. Unmarried.

    Judy Resnik, was the first American Jewish woman astronaut, and the second woman to go into space. She served as mission specialist on the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1984 and also on the Challenger.

    She died tragically when the Challenger broke apart shortly after liftoff for its 10th mission. She consulted a rabbi about lighting Shabbat candles aboard the Space Shuttle. Of course, an open flame was not permitted, but she was advised to use electric lights at the proper hour corresponding to the onset of Shabbat at their home base in Houston.


    Jeffrey Hoffman

    Jeffrey Hoffman was the first Jewish-American man in space and the first person to ever bring a Torah into space. He did this during his 1996 mission on the Space Shuttle Columbia.

    David Wolf
    David Wolf

    Another Jewish astronaut, David Wolf, was in orbit during Hanukkah and though he couldn’t light his menorah due to the hazards of fire in an oxygen-rich atmosphere He did take advantage of zero gravity
    when spinning his dreidels. “I probably have the record dreidel spin, “he later said, “it went for about an hour and a half until I lost it. It showed up a few weeks later in an air filter. I figure it went about 25,000 miles.”

    Gregry Chamitoff

    Gregory Chamitoff

    Then, of course, there’s Gregory Chamitoff, in 2008. He took mezuzot shaped like rockets on to the International Space Station and placed them on the door post near his bunk bed.

    Ilan Ramon
    Ilan Ramon was the first Israeli astronaut.

    Ilan Ramon

    He was the payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia and sadly, he died along with his crew mates when the Columbiadisintegrated during re-entry over Southern Texas. But during his career as an astronaut Judaism was a prominent part of his life in space. He was the first astronaut to request kosher food in space and also the first one to consult a rabbi about how to observe Shabbat while in orbit.

    In addition to a Torah scroll and microfiche copy of the bible, he also carried a picture of Earth as seen from the moon that was
    drawn by a Jewish boy in a concentration camp during World War II.

    Gary Reisman

    Gary Reisman

    Last but not least on this list is Gary Reisman, who was the first Jewish astronaut to live on the International Space Station, andbrought a memento from Ilan Ramon’s widow with him. He left right before Passover and asked if he could bring matzah with him, but alas, mission control thought the crumbs would be

    Reisman is a self-proclaimed member of the Colbert Nation and
    had a cameo appearance on the series finale of Battlestar Galactica).

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