In 1996, NASA astronaut Dr. Jeff Hoffman brought a small Torah scroll on board Space Shuttle Columbia. On Shabbat, while orbiting Earth, he read from the book of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
This is a story about inspiration, communities, and a man’s journey. A story of how family, educators, scientific and religious communities achieve great things and bring our identity to new realms.
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 and the initial repair/ rescue mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. He was the first Jewish American male astronaut to fly into space. Over five space missions, he chose to bring numerous Jewish objects, the highlight was a small and light Torah scroll that he took with him on his fifth and last mission. 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.