Tag Archives: Space

Jew of the Week: Ilan Ramon

An Inspiring Hero: Israel’s First Astronaut

Ilan Ramon

Ilan Ramon – Israel’s First Astronaut

Ilan Wolferman (1954-2003) was born in Ramat Gan, Israel to Holocaust survivors. At just 19 years of age, he distinguished himself in the Yom Kippur War as a brave soldier, receiving a military decoration for his service. A year later he graduated as a fighter pilot, and as customary, took on a new name, ‘Ramon’. By 1981 he was promoted to squadron commander and was the youngest pilot to participate in the covert Operation Opera – Israel’s successful hit on Iraq’s nuclear reactor. He would log over 4000 hours of flying time, 1000 of which were in an F-16. In the relative calm of the late 1980s, Ramon studied at Tel Aviv University and earned a science degree in electronics and computer engineering. Returning to the military, he became a colonel by 1994, and in 1997 was invited by NASA to serve as a payload specialist in its space shuttle program.

His mission finally came in 2003, when he spent nearly 16 days in space, working 24 hour shifts and performing over 80 successful experiments. He proudly declared that he was representing all Jews and all Israelis. Part of that meant that his space food was certified kosher, that he brought to space with him a Torah scroll and a mezuzah, and he even asked his rabbi how he should keep Shabbat in orbit, where sunrise comes every 90 minutes. Tragically, the Columbia space shuttle exploded upon re-entry into Earth, taking the life of Ramon and his fellow crewmates. Sadder still, Ramon’s son Asaf perished in a training flight in 2009. In an unbelievable miracle, 37 pages of Ilan Ramon’s diary somehow survived the crash, when virtually everything else completely disintegrated. Scientists stated there is no “rational explanation” to how this was possible. An inspiring hero, Ilan Ramon was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and his memory continues to be a shining beacon for Israel and the Jewish nation.

Words of the Week

Why [are mourners fed] lentils? Just as the lentil has no mouth, so is the mourner speechless…Just as the lentil is round, so mourning comes round to all the inhabitants of this world.
– Talmud, Bava Batra 16b

Jew of the Week: Stanton Friedman

The Flying Saucer Physicist

The Flying Saucer Physicist, Stanton Friedman

Stanton Terry Friedman (b. 1934) A nuclear physicist by training, he spent 14 years working on top-secret military, space and nuclear research projects. In 1970, he left this vocation to spread awareness of alien life. He has since become the world’s most famous UFOlogist and expert on extraterrestrials. He’s written over 90 papers and 5 books on alien life, provided testimony before Congress and twice before the United Nations. Friedman was one of the first to investigate the Roswell incident, and is credited with bringing its awareness to the mainstream. He often appeared on radio and television programs, and was inducted into the UFO Hall of Fame. He is known as the “flying saucer physicist”. 

UPDATE: Sadly, Stanton Friedman passed away on May 13, 2019.

Words of the Week

It is time for a wake-up call. We are not alone.
– Stanton Friedman

Jew of the Week: Carl Sagan

A Beloved Scientist

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) Born to Russian-Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, Sagan went on to become one of the greatest and most beloved scientists of the last century. He published more than 600 scientific papers and at least 20 books, one of which was the novel Contact, since adapted to a Hollywood blockbuster. He is most famous for being the host of the popular 1980s TV show Cosmos. Sagan had degrees in physics, astrophysics and astronomy, lectured at Harvard and was a full-time professor at Cornell. One of the central figures at NASA, Sagan helped develop many space missions, and designed the famous golden plaque launched with most space crafts. When asked if he was an atheist, Sagan replied “An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions, atheism is very stupid.”

Words of the Week

“How great are Your works, Hashem, how deep are Your thoughts… How abundant are Your creations; with wisdom You made them all…”
– King David (Psalms)