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April 18, 2022 3:09 pm
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Second Israeli Astronaut at First Passover Seder in Space: ‘No Dream Is Beyond Reach’

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Axiom’s four-man team lifts off, riding atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, in the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. April 8, 2022. REUTERS/Thom Baur

Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe on Friday conducted the first Seder night in space while eating handmade matzah and talking about the Passover values of freedom and survival with his three colleagues at the International Space Station (ISS).

The businessman and former fighter pilot — who on April 8 became the second Israeli astronaut to travel into space, as part of the “Rakia” mission — ate matzah, performed kiddush, and even had a traditional gefilte fish on the first night of the holiday.

Rabbi Zvi Konikov of Florida’s Chabad of the Space & Treasure Coasts provided the mission with a box of Passover supplies, including handmade shmurah matzah and four small cartons of grape juice that can be sipped with a straw at zero gravity, according to Chabad.org.

Following the meal, Stibbe planned to tell his fellow astronauts about the values that the Seder tradition and the reading of the Haggadah can teach us in everyday life, he wrote in an update from the space station on Friday. The Haggadah, which recounts the story of the exodus from Egypt of the people of Israel “from slavery into freedom,” teaches us that “no dream is beyond reach,” Stibbe said.

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Passed down from one generation to the next, the essence of the Haggadah reflects that each person should “see themselves as if they themselves had left Egypt,” he pointed out.

“This phrase emphasizes the fact that the struggle for freedom is never-ending,” Stibbe explained. It is an everyday struggle. It is the responsibility of every man and woman to be vigilant over their rights and freedom.”

Stibbe drew the analogy between slavery experienced thousands of years ago to people sometimes being chained to a familiar, well-known routine.

Quite often we need to break from the patterns that have always seemed to make sense to us,” Stibbe said. “Thanks to groundbreaking thinking, many important inventions have been developed, including the Dragon spacecraft, the International Space Station, the experiments, technological demonstrations, and educational and artistic activities of the Rakia Mission — all of which have been inspired by thoughts, which would previously have been perceived as irrational.”

During the Seder night, participants are inspired to pose questions for generations to come, Stibbe tells his fellow astronauts: “Just as we here, on the Rakia mission, seek to spark curiosity in the future generations, to encourage them to ask questions and seek answers.”

“These invaluable principles have come to be, and will always be, shared by the entire world,” he said. “They are the source of hope for all those who are, or have ever been, enslaved — a hope to win their freedom.”

During the ten-day Rakia mission, the first-ever private trip to the space station, Stibbe set out to conduct more than 30 science and technology experiments for a number of universities and startups in Israel. The spacecraft is scheduled to come back to Earth on Wednesday.

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