Judith Arlene Resnik (1949-1986) was born in Akron, Ohio to Jewish-Russian immigrants from Ukraine. As a child she went to Hebrew school, then attended a public high school where she was the only female student to achieve a perfect SAT score. She went on to become an electrical engineer, eventually earning a Ph.D in the subject. Resnik first worked as a circuitry designer for tech giant RCA, as well as serving as a biomedical engineer for the National Institutes of Health (at the Laboratory of Neurophysiology) and a systems engineer for Xerox. In 1978 she joined NASA, going on her first space flight in 1984 on the maiden voyage of the space shuttle Discovery. That made her the first American Jew in space and the first Jewish woman in space. She quickly became beloved by the public for her on-board humour and space acrobatics. Resnik went on her second tour in space with the Challenger in January of 1986. Sadly, the mission ended quickly when the space shuttle tragically exploded in Earth’s atmosphere, killing all 7 crew members. It took nearly 6 weeks to find the crew compartment at the bottom of the ocean floor. Resnik’s body was among those that were identifiable. She was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. That same year, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) established the Judith A. Resnik Award for outstanding contributions to space engineering. The moon’s Resnik Lunar Crater is named in her honour.
Words of the Week
A man without a woman is not a man. – Rabbi Elazar (Talmud, Yevamot 63a)
Avraham ben Meir ibn Ezra (1089 – c. 1167 CE) was a world-renowned scholar born in Tudela, Spain. He became famous at an early age for both his beautiful poetry and philosophical genius. In 1140, ibn Ezra (also known as Abenezra) left Spain and began a fascinating journey that took him across North Africa, to the Holy Land, back through Europe, Italy, France and England. It was during this time that he wrote most of his famous works, including some of the first Hebrew grammar books, and a commentary on the entire Torah and Tanakh. His commentary contained such depth that subsequently many commentaries were written on ibn Ezra’s commentaries! He is famous for his rationalism and logic; in religious matters, too, sometimes even criticizing sacred texts. Not surprisingly, he was also a scholar of mathematics and science, writing several treatises on astronomy, arithmetic and even a manual for using an astrolabe. He is credited with being among the key figures who introduced Europe to the Indian system of mathematical symbols and decimal fractions (still used to this day). Ibn Ezra’s poetry continues to be recited around the world, in both translations and the original Hebrew and Arabic. Among other titles, he has been called “ibn Ezra the Great” and the “Admirable Doctor”. The lunar crater Abenezra is named after him.
Words of the Week
Words are the pen of the heart; song is the pen of the soul. – Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
Queen Esther (c. 4th Century B.C.E), the daughter of Avichayil, she was originally named Hadassah (meaning “myrtle”), and was given the Persian name Esther (which has multiple meanings, including “morning star”, “moon”, “goddess” and “hidden”). The first official Miss Universe, she was selected for her beauty from thousands of candidates across the whole known world. King Ahashverosh was enchanted by her instantly, and promptly made her his queen. A humble orphan girl raised by her cousin (or uncle) Mordechai, she used her wits to overturn the genocidal decree of Haman. Taking both a religious and militaristic approach, Esther organized three days of fasting and repentance, while mobilizing the Jews to defeat Haman’s evil forces. Ultimately, she saved the Jewish nation from total extinction. She is one of the 7 known prophetesses of Israel.
Chag Purim Sameach!
Words of the Week
The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won more of his grace and favour than all the other girls, so that he set the royal crown upon her head and made her Queen… – Scroll of Esther 2:17