Tag Archives: Sputnik

Jew of the Week: Anatoliy Daron

The Jew Who Made Space Flight Possible

Anatoliy Davidovich Daron (1926-2020) was born in Odessa, Ukraine. An avid pianist, he initially wished to become a musician. At age 12, he read a book about space and was inspired to become a rocket scientist, with the hopes of one day flying to Mars. That same year, World War II broke out and the family fled to Russia’s Stavropol region. A few years later, the Nazi invasion came to his town just as he was graduating high school—he got his diploma, written by the principal on a scrap piece of paper, while everyone was fleeing! Doron went on to study rocketry in Moscow, and soon joined OKB-456, the Soviet state institution tasked with missile and rocket development, under the leadership of Valentin Glushko. There, Daron worked on the USSR’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). When the anti-Semitic Doctor’s Plot hit, Daron lost his job because he was Jewish. Thankfully, Stalin was soon out of the way, and Daron returned to his previous position. Daron’s team of engineers proposed that they could put a satellite in space using rockets similar to the ICBMs. They began working on the designs, but encountered serious problems. Then, while lying ill in bed with a high fever, Daron had an idea. It was the breakthrough the engineers were looking for, and ended up putting Sputnik, humanity’s first artificial satellite, in space in 1957. Historians mark this moment as the birth of the “Space Age”. It was in response to this event that the US government formed NASA (as well as what became DARPA). Not surprisingly, Daron became a Soviet hero and his family was moved out of their cramped one-bedroom, shared apartment to their own two-bedroom suite, together with a state-provided car and television. Daron continued to work for the Soviet space agency, and played a key role in making Yuri Gagarin the first human in space. He was the lead designer on the R-7, R-9, and UR-700 rockets, among others. All in all, he worked as a rocket scientist for more than 50 years, authored some 300 articles and patents, and was awarded the Order of Lenin. In 1998, Daron moved to the United States and spent the rest of his life there. When he passed away last year, he was described as one of the most important “unwritten figures in the history of space.”

Words of the Week

The Palestinians are always coming here and saying to me, ‘You expelled the French and the Americans. How do we expel the Jews?’ I tell them that the French went back to France and the Americans to America. But the Jews have nowhere to go. You will not expel them.
Vo Nguyen Giap, infamous Vietnamese general

Top left: Daron in the design room. Bottom left: The team that put the first man in space – Yuri Gagarin, sitting third from right, Daron standing, centre. (Image Source)

Jew of the Week: Dolph Schayes

Dolph Schayes - Basketball Superstar

Dolph Schayes – Basketball Superstar

Adolph Schayes (b. 1928) was born in New York to Romanian-Jewish immigrants. Growing up playing basketball, he led his high school team to the championships, then earned an engineering degree while playing college basketball. Schayes was drafted by both the New York Knicks and Tri-City Blackhawks in 1948, though he ended up playing in Syracuse, winning the 1949 NBA Rookie of the Year. His height (6’8″) and high-arcing shot (nicknamed “Sputnik”) made him a powerful player. Most amazingly, Schayes once broke his arm, but continued to play the entire season in a cast! He learned to play with his weaker arm, making him even more deadly on the court. Year after year, Schayes dominated the league stats, set records, and led his team to be NBA Champions in 1955. In 1961 he became the first player to reach 30,000 PRA (points, rebounds and assists). He retired having been a twelve-time All-Star, with records for number of games played, both attempted and successful foul shots, and second overall in scoring. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and was ranked one of the 50 best NBA players of all time. He also won an NBA Coach of the Year award in 1966, and strangely, once served as both a coach and a player in the same season. Patriarch of a talented sports family, Dolph’s son Danny Schayes played 18 seasons in the NBA, while his granddaughters won silver medals on the U.S. Volleyball team, and his grandson is a gold medalist relay sprinter. Schayes now works as a real estate developer in the Syracuse area.

UPDATE: Sadly, Dolph Schayes passed away on December 10, 2015.


Words of the Week

…a scattered people, dispersed over the world, enslaved, persecuted, scorned by all nations, nonetheless preserving its characteristics, its laws, its customs, its patriotic love of the early social union, when all ties with it seem broken. The Jews provide us with an astonishing spectacle: the laws of Numa, Lycurgus, Solon are dead; the very much older laws of Moses are still alive. Athens, Sparta, Rome have perished and no longer have children left on earth; Zion, destroyed, has not lost its children.
– Jean-Jacques Rousseau