The 'Apollo Mezuza'

Canadian Jewish astronaut Greg Chamitoff will take mezuzot into space.

Greg Chamitoff 224.63 ap (photo credit: AP)
Greg Chamitoff 224.63 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Canadian Jewish astronaut Greg Chamitoff has put a pair of mezuzot from the Tel Aviv art studio of Laura Cowan into his NASA pouch, according to the Texas Jewish Post. Chamitoff said the mezuzot, one of which he would affix to the doorpost of his room on the shuttle Discovery, would serve as constant reminders of his home and his Jewish identity during his six-month sojourn. "They represent the two most important elements in his life: space and the Jewish faith," said the Manchester, England-born Cowan. A friend of Chamitoff bought Cowan's shuttle mezuza for him to take into space. It is a sleek piece of pewter, designed to withstand the elements encountered during outdoor use on earth. "It seems very appropriate to have a mezuza that evokes space flight actually go into space," the unidentified friend was quoted as saying. "It will certainly be a more powerful symbol when it's on one of our doorposts." Cowan's "Apollo Mezuza" is named for that 1969 moon-landing mission and features an abstract letter Shin inspired by the shape of a spacecraft window. "My recent work is based on a rocket shape," Cowan said. "I was inspired by the '60s mission to land a man on the moon, although this was achieved before I was born. I love the irony of a futuristic design based on what is now history." A modern piece made with ancient silver-working techniques, the Apollo Mezuza was purchased by the aerospace engineer who supervised Chamitoff's graduate research when he was a doctoral student at MIT. Chamitoff, 45, is a married father of two from Montreal. After completing his doctorate at MIT, he earned an additional master's degree in space science/planetary geology from the University of Houston. He will serve as flight engineer and science officer on Expedition 17, his first space flight. He is scheduled to live and work aboard the International Space Station for six months Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon took a mezuza and other Jewish items with him into space on Columbia's fatal mission in 2003.