Celebrating Hanukkah in the Stars: NASA Astronaut’s Unique Menorah and Dreidel

As the world prepares to celebrate Hanukkah, a festival commemorating the miracle of light and resilience, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli is set to observe this cherished Jewish holiday in a unique setting – space. Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Moghbeli, a New York native and the second Iranian-American in space, is bringing a piece of her heritage to the cosmos with a special felt menorah and a traditional dreidel.

Due to the safety protocols on the spacecraft, which prohibit the use of fire, lighting a traditional menorah is not feasible. However, Moghbeli’s innovative spirit shines through as she finds a creative way to celebrate Hanukkah in orbit. She shared during a July press conference, “My husband and little girls helped make a felt menorah, with lights for each night, that I can pin on to celebrate with them. So I’m excited to do that.” This heartfelt gesture highlights the importance of keeping traditions alive, even in the most unconventional environments.

The inclusion of a dreidel in Moghbeli’s space mission is a nod to the playful and educational aspects of Hanukkah. This small spinning top, with letters representing the phrase “A great miracle happened there,” will undoubtedly be a source of joy and connection for Moghbeli as she orbits the Earth.

Part of SpaceX’s Crew-7 mission, Moghbeli’s crewmates include Danish European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Konstantin Borisov from Russia’s space agency Roscosmos. Launched on August 26 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, this mission marks Moghbeli’s inaugural journey into space after her selection as a NASA astronaut in 2017. As the mission commander for SpaceX’s Crew-7, her leadership role is a testament to her skills and dedication.

Moghbeli’s celebration of Hanukkah in space is more than just an observance of a festival; it represents the enduring spirit of Jewish heritage and the universal message of resilience and hope that Hanukkah embodies. It’s a reminder that no matter where we are, be it on Earth or in the vastness of space, our traditions and values can keep us connected and grounded.

As we light the Hanukkah candles here on Earth, let’s take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary journey of Jasmin Moghbeli, who is bringing the light of Hanukkah to the stars. Her story is a shining example of how the State of Israel and its people continue to make significant contributions to the world, even beyond our planet, through innovation, courage, and a deep respect for cultural heritage.