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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



An Article of Hope

Film Screening and Q&A with Director Dan Cohen

When Ilan Ramon boarded the Space Shuttle Columbia, he made history as the first Israeli astronaut and a member of the most diverse crew in shuttle history. The son of a Holocaust survivor, Ramon also carried a piece of history with him – a tiny Torah scroll with an extraordinary story. Far above the earth, Ramon took on a mission within the mission: to tell that story to the world.

This is the final program in conjunction with the Jews in Space: Members of the Tribe in Orbit exhibition.

Ilan Ramon, was Israel’s first astronaut and a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia. A fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, he was selected for the U.S. astronaut program in 1998. On February 1, 2003, the Columbia exploded as it was returning to Earth after 16 days in orbit. All seven members of the crew were killed. Ramon was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the only non-U.S. citizen recipient ever to receive that honor.

Dan Cohen is an award winning veteran journalist and documentary filmmaker and the founder of West Street Productions, a documentary film and production company. His 30-year career has taken him around the world from remote cities in South America, to the launch pad of America’s Space Shuttle, the presidential campaign trail, and far away to the Arctic ice. Storytelling is Dan’s passion, and “An Article of Hope” is a labor of love. The 7-year journey to make the documentary included more than 20 interviews and on-location filming in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, northern Israel, Houston, Texas, Nacogdoches, Texas, The Kennedy Space Center, Florida, New Jersey, and Washington, DC.

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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.