Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jews in Space; or spaced out Jews

Judaism is much more than Zionism, (and its best parts are antithetical to the State of Israel as it is.) but both the main stream Diaspora Jewish community and the Israeli and Zionist leadership have done their best to blur this distinction. Later we decry it when anti-Zionists slip into Antisemitism, or when Jew's in the Diaspora are targeted by groups angry at Israel.

As an example of how far Israel has replaced Judaism in the minds of many Jews read this. The context is an interview with an American Jewish astronaut currently on board the International Space Station.

Shortly before Garrett Reisman launched aboard the shuttle Endeavour March 11 from the John F. Kennedy Space Center, he was asked about spending Passover in space.

"I haven’t really thought that much about that,” he said.

Reisman did spend time planning how to honor Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who died in the 2003 shuttle Columbia disaster. When he was tapped for a space mission of his own, Reisman asked [dead Israeli astronaut Ilan] Ramon’s widow, Rona, if there was anything she would like him to take into space.

“Ilan flew a copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence," Reisman told JTA in a preflight interview. "It was a scroll and he kind of played with it in orbit, and they have video of that. She gave me another copy so I can kind of have the same experience with it up in orbit, and then I intend to return it to her when I get back.”

Reisman also is flying a flag with the symbol of the State of Israel signed by President Shimon Peres, as well as a necklace blessed by a Buddhist priest and a set of rosary beads.“

I pretty much have all my major religions covered,” he joked.

So there you have it. The symbol of Chistianity - rosary beads; the symbol of Buddism - a necklaced blessed by a priest; and the symbol of Judaism - an Israeli flag blessed by the President of the State, and the Israeli declaration of independence. Matzah and maror, a Haggadah, maybe some Charoset? Fogeddabouddit !

All is not lost though:
Reisman’s replacement, Jewish astronaut Gregory Chamitoff, is bringing two mezuzot.


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