A zoom with a view

Jewish astronaut snaps space pics of Israel, salutes late father

Jessica Meir posts photos of the Middle East and says it’s part of the journey her Iraqi-born dad took, reaching US via Israel, Lebanon, Switzerland and Sweden

Israel as seen from space (Jessica Meir/NASA via Twitter)
Israel as seen from space (Jessica Meir/NASA via Twitter)

Jewish astronaut Jessica Meir, who made history last month as one half of the first all-female spacewalking team, on Friday posted pictures of Israel snapped from space with a caption saying the country was part of her father’s journey.

“My father’s globe spanning journey as a surgeon from the Middle East, to Europe, and eventually to the U.S. was an inspiration to many in my immediate and extended family. #TheJourney,” Meir wrote.

Meir’s late father was born in 1925 in Baghdad, and in 1931 the whole family left Iraq as a result of anti-Semitism and settled in pre-state Israel.

He was in medical school at the American University of Beirut when the 1948 War of Independence broke out and returned to Israel, where he drove an ambulance during the war. He then went to Geneva to finish medical school before taking a job in Sweden, where he met Meir’s mother, a nurse who was raised in a Christian Swedish family.

Her parents then moved to the US.

President Reuven Rivlin, in a tweet Sunday morning, responded to Meir’s post: “Dear Jessica, that you for taking us with you on your space voyage. We are proud of you and send warm regards from Israel.”

Meir and Christina Koch last month made history when they replaced a broken part of the International Space Station’s power grid.

NASA originally planned an all-female spacewalk last spring, but had to cancel it because of a shortage of readily available medium-size suits.

International Space Station (ISS) crew member, NASA’s US astronaut Jessica Meir, waves as she boards the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft before its blasts off for the ISS, on September 25, 2019 at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Maxim Shipenkov/Pool/AFP)

Koch and Meir completed the job with wrenches, screwdrivers and power-grip tools, marking the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that men weren’t part of the action.

They insisted they were just doing their job after years of training.

Since the first spacewalk in 1965, there have been 227 spacewalkers, only 14 of them women. Meir became No. 15. All but one of these women has been American.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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