Religion & Beliefs

5 Jewish Astronauts Who Brought Their Judaica Into Space

The Jewish world is amused and charmed by the impending blast-off of Tel Aviv-based designer Laura Cowan's space-themed mezuzot, but these certainly won't be the first pieces of Judaica to rocket to the moon. Here are five Jewish astronauts who … Read More

By / March 28, 2008

The Jewish world is amused and charmed by the impending blast-off of Tel Aviv-based designer Laura Cowan's space-themed mezuzot, but these certainly won't be the first pieces of Judaica to rocket to the moon. Here are five Jewish astronauts who reached for the stars and brought their dreidels along for the ride.

Gregory Chamitoff: He's the astronaut behind the Laura Cowan story that has everyone all starry-eyed. He'll be taking a couple of Cowan's rocket-inspired mezuzot with him when he leaves for the International Space Station in May.
Jeffrey Hoffman: This dedicated Jewish spaceman has carried various Judaic objects on his missions. He's especially notorious for bringing a Torah into space for the first time ever during his 1996 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. The sacred scroll was wrapped in his grandfather's tallit katan.
David Wolf: With a number of shuttle flights and a four-month layover at the Russian space station Mir under his belt, Jewish astronaut David Wolf says that his first spacewalk was a religious experience. Other religious experiences he's had in space? Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Hanukka, for which he brought a menorah that he couldn't light due to fire hazards, and a dreidel that he estimates spun "about 25,000 miles."
Ilan Ramon: Famous for having been the first Israeli astronaut, Ramon was also the first to request kosher food in space, and to request input from rabbis on observing Shabbat while in orbit. In addition to a kiddush cup, he carried a pencil sketch drawn by 14-year-old Peter Ginz, who died in Auschwitz, along with him on the Space Shuttle Columbia. The sketch was titled "Moon Landscape," and was the Yad Vashem collection. Ramon perished along with the entire crew of Columbia upon re-entry in 2003.
Garrett E. Reisman: In a tribute to Ilan Ramon, Reisman brought a memento from Ramon's widow on his first trip to space aboard Endeavour.