ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Astronaut celebrates Hanukkah with zero-gravity dreidel spin

Jasmin Moghbeli finds creative way to mark the Jewish Festival of Lights while aboard the International Space Station

A dreidel spins in zero gravity in front of a makeshift menorah aboard the International Space Station in a video shared by NASA Astronaut Jasmine Moghbeli on December 8, 2023. (Twitter screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A dreidel spins in zero gravity in front of a makeshift menorah aboard the International Space Station in a video shared by NASA Astronaut Jasmine Moghbeli on December 8, 2023. (Twitter screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli took the opportunity to bring a beloved Hanukkah game to new heights last week when she shared a video of a dreidel spinning in zero gravity aboard the International Space Station.

In place of lighting a real menorah, which cannot be done aboard the space station, Moghebli marked the holiday by sticking a felt cutout of a menorah onto a window in the Space Station and “lighting” it each night with stick-on flames.

Moghebli shared the video of the zero-gravity dreidel spinning in front of the felt menorah on X, formerly Twitter, with the caption: “Happy Hanukkah from the @Space_Station!! Real candles not allowed!

The video shows the dreidel spinning at a consistent pace in midair for close to a minute before it eventually bumps into the camera and slows down, tilting onto its side.

Moghbeli is a flight engineer and mission commander for SpaceX’s Crew-7 which departed for the Space Station in August of this year. During a press conference in July, she said that her family had made the felt menorah for her so that she could be included in their Hanukkah celebrations from afar.

“In my household, we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, so I’ve brought some items for both to celebrate with my family,” said Moghebli, who isn’t Jewish but has a Jewish husband.

“I’ve got a Christmas ornament with a picture of the four of us together and also my husband and little girls helped make a felt menorah with lights for each night that I can pin on to celebrate with them.”

Moghbeli isn’t the first astronaut to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights with a zero-gravity dreidel spin.

In a 2019 interview with the Canadian Jewish news outlet Jewish Independent, retired astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman discussed taking a dreidel into space, and how the idea had come to him to do so.

“While I was in Jerusalem, I met a couple of Jewish artists who had read about me, a Jewish astronaut who took Jewish things into space,” he told the outlet. “I had planned on being in space during Hanukkah and one thing led to another and they presented me with a dreidel and a traveling menorah. It is a beautiful dreidel. It simply would not stop spinning!”

Hoffman’s zero-gravity dreidel spin led to a friendly competition with fellow Jewish astronaut David Wolf, as both claim to hold the record for the longest continuous zero-gravity dreidel spin.

“Hoffman and I are having a running battle, a running argument, on who has the longest dreidel spin,” he told the Jewish Independent in 2019. “But I know mine went for like an hour and a half until it got sucked into an air intake. It was just floating there spinning.”

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