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From as early as Genesis, Jews have pondered the heavens that surround our planet, as well as their place in them. Often borrowing from other cultures, they used astrology to help guide them in their daily lives, and, as science and technology progressed they became interested in new discoveries, often attempting to unite science and Jewish tradition. Astronomy, mathematics, and other sciences appear frequently in books published by rabbis and scholars in Hebrew and other languages during the 17th through the 19th centuries.

By the early 20th century, when science and tradition had already separated, Jewish inventor Hugo Gernsback coined the term “science fiction,” and founded a series of magazines that became the home for a new genre of space literature that would come to inspire generations of readers. Later that century, Jewish astronauts and cosmonauts would be shot into orbit as part of the space programs of both the United States and the Soviet Union, which also utilized the work of Jewish scientists and engineers, among many others, to reach these milestones. And finally, Jews sometimes appear in popular culture renditions of space, space travel, and science fiction, starring in groundbreaking television shows such as Star Trek, and beloved movies such as Spaceballs by Mel Brooks.

The exhibit Jews in Space tells the story of Jews’ relationship to the solar system, and features a wide array of materials, including:
  • Rare 18th and 19th century rabbinic tomes on astronomy in Hebrew, German, and Yiddish
  • Judaica taken into space aboard the Space Shuttle by astronaut Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman
  • Yiddish, English,Polish, and Russian works of science fiction
  • Rare Science Fiction Periodicals
  • Other ephemera from literature and popular culture




Bring your children, bring your grandchildren and join us for an extraterrestrial adventure! Explore our stellar exhibition on a fun-filled, family scavenger hunt. Design a rocket ship that really takes off! Discover the mystifying, mesmerizing music of the theremin, an instrument you play but never touch. Then try it yourself and listen to that sci-fi sound. All this, plus what do astronauts eat for dinner? We'll skype with a NASA food scientist and see what's on the menu.

Rob Schwimmer is a composer-pianist/keyboardist, vocalist, and thereminist. He has performed and recorded around the world with artists including, Simon and Garfunkle, Willie Nelson, The Boston Pops, The Klezmatics, and many others. A founding member and co-director of the New York Theremin Society, Rob is one of the top theremin virtuosos in the world.

Vickie L. Kloeris is the Manager of the International Space Station Food System at NASA Johnson Space Center. A food scientist for more than thirty years, Vickie makes sure that astronauts have an appetizing menu and nutritional food in outer space.

Anna Martin is an artist and art educator in New York City. She teaches in schools and museums and works with artists of all ages and abilities.

Financially supported by the generosity of Lisa and Joshua Greer, Kepco, Inc. & the Kupferberg Foundation.

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Sensory Friendly Family Program

Come before the crowds. CJH will open one hour early for families to come and view this stellar exhibition! There will be arts and crafts for children, curator tours for adults, and space themed fun for all. People of all ages and ability levels welcome!

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Meet Astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman

What's it like to spin a dreidel in zero gravity? Read the Torah in Orbit? Celebrate Shabbat when the sun rises and sets every hour? Astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman shares out-this-world stories from his galactic Jewish journey. Dr. Hoffman is joined by Valerie Neal, Curator and Chair of the Space History Department at the Smithsonian Institution.

Jeffrey Alan Hoffman, Ph.D., was NASA's first Jewish male astronaut, and has been to space five times. A professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, Hoffman's space missions have included repairing the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993, when the orbiting telescope's flawed optical system was corrected. Over the course of his five missions he has logged more than 1,211 hours and 21.5 million miles in space. Born on November 2, 1944, in Brooklyn, New York, Hoffman received a Bachelor of Arts degree in astronomy from Amherst College in 1966, a Masters Degree in materials science from Rice University in 1988, and a Doctor of Philosophy in astrophysics from Harvard University in 1971.

Dr. Valerie Neal has been a space history curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum since 1989 and is current chair of the Space History Department. Her research, exhibition, and collection responsibilities focus on human spaceflight in the Space Shuttle era and beyond. Author of numerous books on space flight and science, Dr. Neal has curated three major exhibitions on space exploration and eight Smithsonian Channel documentaries. Before joining the Smithsonian, Dr. Neal spent a decade in Huntsville, Alabama, writing for NASA. She also participated in underwater astronaut crew training activities and worked in mission support on four Shuttle missions. Dr. Neal has taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Vanderbilt University, and Georgetown University.

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Exhibit Highlights


Nimoy, Leonard
Millbrae, California: Celestial Arts, 1975
Private Collection


Isaac ben Joseph Israeli, c. 14th century
Berlin, 1777
Leo Baeck Institute


Vol. 1, No. 7
October 1926
Private Collection


Ilan Ramon; Israeli Astronaut
Private Collection

This exhibit has been made possible in part by The David Berg Foundation’s creation and support of The David Berg Rare Book Room and the generous support of Kepco, Inc., and the Kupferberg Foundation and Lisa and Joshua Greer.