Beresheet ("In the Beginning...")
is the name of the spacecraft which successfully launched toward the moon
early Friday morning, Feb. 22, 2019. If successful, Beresheets actual
landing on the lunar surface which is projected to take place on April
11, will make Israel the fourth country after the US, Russia and China
to land on the moon. (For some interesting trechnical details, seethe
Feb. 24th article on space.com)
This privately funded project is a fascinating story, no
less fascinating are the people behind it. (For more information about
the funding, see the Jerusalem
Post's pre-launch article of Feb. 21.)
of the engineers monitoring it from the ground is Alex Friedman. Alex
was born in Russia. His father, a Chabad chassid, was jailed for
Jewish activities, and he only met him at 7 years old, when he was freed.
The family would pray in secret so the neighbors shouldn't hear. He received
a doctor's note so he shouldn't have to attend school on Shabbat.
Because of the antisemitism, he was not accepted in the
physics department, and instead majored in math.
In the 70s the family finally received permission to emigrate
to Israel, there Alex joined the air force and the Israeli space program.
He sees this event as closing a circle, as he says
'The boy who was not accepted to study physics because he
was Jewish, is sending an Israeli spacecraft to the moon, with a disk
with the Tenach ('Bible' of 24 books separated into three divisions:
Five Books of Moses, Prophets, Writings) on it.'
Did he also put tefilin aboard for some curious Aliens?