Space Torah

In 1996, NASA astronaut Dr. Jeff Hoffman brought a small Torah scroll on board Space Shuttle Colombia. On Shabbat, while orbiting Earth, he read from the book of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” “בראשית ברא אלוקים את השמיים ואת הארץ” Dr. Jeff Hoffman became a NASA Astronaut in 1978. He participated in five space missions, becoming the first astronaut to log 1,000 hours of flights aboard the space shuttle. Dr. Hoffman has performed four spacewalks, including the first unplanned, contingency spacewalk in NASA’s history (STS 51D; April, 1985) and the initial repair/ rescue mission for the Hubble Space Telescope (STS 61; December, 1993). Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman was the first Jewish American male astronaut to fly into space. Over five space missions, he chose to bring numerous Jewish objects, such as mezuzot that he posted in his sleep compartment, dreidels that he spun during Hanukkah and atarot from his sons’ tallitot that they used for their Bar-Mitzvahs and years later, as chuppah covers at their weddings. The highlight was a small and light Torah scroll that he took with him on his fifth and last mission (STS 75; February 1996). Rabbi Shaul Osadchey, Jeff’s spiritual leader, was instrumental in making it possible for Jeff to take a Torah scroll (the Space Torah) into space. Jeff saw the act of bringing religious objects into space as part of bringing his own tradition with him, but bringing the Torah into space had the added symbolic meaning and significance of bringing the holiness of human life into space.

Playing as part of the JEWS IN SHORTS: DOCUMENTARIES series

Release Year
Running Time
Print Source
Rachel Raz