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Friday, July 19, 2002 | return to: local


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Oh, heavens! Jews make mark in outer space

by Mark Mietkiewicz

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The first Jewish astronaut and the second American female in space was Judith Resnick, who first flew during the maiden flight of the Discovery in August 1984. See http://www.christa.org/ resnick.htm

Resnick was chosen to fly again in January 1986 aboard the Challenger, in which she perished along with rest of the crew shortly after launch.

You can see a memorial plaque and read more about the mission at the Arlington Cemetery Web site: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/challengr.htm

Several other Jewish astronauts have followed Resnick into space, including career test pilot Scott Horowitz, who has been in space four times. http://www.jewishsf.com/ bk960216/uspilot.htm

In 1996, astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman took a "Space Torah" onboard his shuttle and then returned it to his congregation, Houston's Or Hadash. The synagogue's Web site praises its member for demonstrating "that one could embrace traditional Jewish values and yet venture into the newest frontiers of human existence." http://members.aol.com/orhadash1/mehadash.htm

In an article in Hadassah Magazine, Miryam Wahrman speaks to another Jewish astronaut, David Wolf, who has flown on three shuttle flights. Wolf also spent four months aboard the Russian space station Mir, including a Chanukah that was out of this world. Although Wolf brought along a menorah, he couldn't light it because open flames would have posed a serious risk in the oxygen-rich atmosphere. So he took advantage of zero gravity to enjoy another tradition: "I probably have the record dreidel spin; 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." http://www.hadassah.org/NEWS/archive/2001/march01/profile.htm

David Wolf's official bio can be found on the NASA site http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/ htmlbios/wolf.html

Although Jews may be relatively new to space, they have done a great deal to shape how our world views outer space, including the work of filmmakers ranging from Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" to Woody Allen's "Sleeper."

The writer is a Toronto-based television producer who writes, lectures and teaches about the Jewish Internet. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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