Boy and Top / each time he spins it /
it lands precisely / at the centre of the world.
From one day to the next, as the training progresses, as we get more and more practice on life in weightlessness, and while our Dragon is in maintenance - the launch becomes ever more tangible. And already, it is less than three months before we are supposed to be reaching the Space Station. All of the details are coming together, and in the prevailing Hanukkah atmosphere, let me explain the dreidel I have chosen to take with me to that other world, which is among the tiny number of things we are permitted to carry with us.
A dreidel is a wonderous creation. For me personally, it is going to remind me, while I’m in space, not to hurry anywhere, to enjoy the here and now. To be a bit like a child does in play but that we as adults tend to forget. Matti Caspi wrote about this exactly: The dreidel dances, dances all day / it is in a hurry nowhere / On the floor, on a bench, in the palm of the hand / It thinks of nothing, it doesn’t care.
The dreidel I will be taking with me to space will be celebrating its place in Jewish tradition: despite the fact that it was not invented by the “Jewish mind”, in the days of Antiochus the dreidel had the power to save lives. Legend has it that Jewish children that were studying the Torah in violation of the prohibitions, would switch to playing with a dreidel to trick Greek soldiers that were trying to catch them in study and punish them for it.
The dreidel I will be taking with me on the Rakia mission is going to symbolize the technological miracle of sending man beyond the atmosphere. It will enable me to demonstrate how a dreidel spins eternally in space due to microgravity, exactly the way Earth spins eternally on its axis. I can’t wait to demonstrate the continual spinning and to share the joys of this clever childish game with my mates in the mission.
The 11th week of our training (which is going to be fascinating in itself, but more on that in another post), we concluded by a festive lighting of candles at Israel’s consul in Houston, Ms. Livia Link-Raviv, together with the family and friends from the Jewish community. The guest of honor, Mr. Sylvester Turner - Mayor of Space City Houston, who lit the fourth Hanukkah candle and addressed all of the guests and myself ahead of the mission.
As a token of thanks for the enthusiastic reception we received in Houston, the “Space City”, I gave him - a dreidel!
 The Rakia Mission, which is being led in Israel by the Ramon Foundation NGO and the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, is intended to inspire the younger generation, to advance and expand Israel’s space industry and to expose groundbreaking Israeli art which is going to discuss man’s journey to outer space. Eytan will be presenting educational activities to Israel’s children in Hebrew, directly from the Space Station. As part of the mission, as in every space mission, Eytan is allowed to take just one small bag with him, in which a limited number of personal items can be carried. Among these he has chosen to take a dreidel, which will demonstrate the link between the ancient Jewish tradition and the innovation and progress the Rakia Mission will be bringing with it.