Jewish Space Travel: The Shuttle Story, Paying Tribute to Israel’s First Astronaut Ilan Ramon, 15 Years Later, Launches on Kickstarter

With the successful launch of SpaceX in Florida yesterday, rockets are top of mind. The Shuttle Story, another, albeit different, rocket story, about the first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, has been launched on Kickstarter this February in memory of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy that occurred 15 years ago.

The goal of the Kickstarter campaign is to publish The Shuttle Story into a fully illustrated book, bound in hardcover, with an embedded audio of Torah chant.  This story (and subsequent book) accomplishes what Jewish education strives to do – to establish every Jewish child as a necessary link in a continuous chain of Jewish history and Torah transmission.  The book is suitable for children and adults alike, and especially relevant to upcoming b’nei mitzvah, and will presented to the Ramon family in memory of Ilan Ramon”.

This book and its accompanying audio is destined to be gifted to every upcoming bar and bat mitzvah, and to everyone who embarks on the study of Torah. 

Melanie Fine and Sam Glaser collaborated on the original song, “Look Up at the Stars” in honor of the campaign.

The Story

15 years ago, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentry into our atmosphere, killing all crew including Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon. 

This week, The Shuttle Story, chronicling the fate of that last mission and the tiny Torah from Bergen-Belson that went up with it, has been launched on the Crowdfunding site Kickstarter.  The goal of the campaign is to turn this story, that has traveled the internet for 15 years and been read in many congregations around the world, into a beautifully illustrated hardcover book with embedded audio.

The Shuttle Story traces the Torah that God dictated to Moses on Mount Sinai, to the Torah that a rabbi from Amsterdam smuggled into Bergen-Belsen, to the Torah that Ilan Ramon took up with him into space.

The Shuttle Story uses the tradition of chanting Torah to weave together the themes of space exploration, the Jewish hero Ilan Ramon, and the miniature Torah from Bergen-Belsen that he took up with him, making its final trip among the stars. 

Its resulting tapestry sets our history of Torah transmission upon the heart like no other.


“This scroll symbolizes,” according to Ilan Ramon, “more than anything, the ability of the Jewish people to survive everything, including horrible periods, and go from darkest days to days of hope and faith in the future.”

Author Cantor Melanie Fine says, “PirkeiAvot teaches, ‘Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, and Joshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly.’  The Shuttle Story extends this sacred lineage through generations of Jewish history, through bad times and good, from the horrors of the Holocaust, to the birth of the very ancient, new country, Israel, to Israel’s first astronaut.” 

Rabbi David Golinkin, President Emeritus of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, says thatThe Shuttle Story is “the most significant response to the Shuttle disaster I’ve ever read.”

Genesis of the Story

As cantor of Congregation Beth David in Saratoga, California 15 years ago, Cantor Melanie Fine had to read a children’s story the Friday night after the tragedy.  This is the story she wrote.

This story has traveled the internet ever since.

About Melanie Fine

Cantor Melanie Fine received her Investiture as a Hazzan and Masters of Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.  She serves as ba’alatkorei of Congregation Kehillat Ma’arav in Santa Monica, California, teaches high school science and writes about women in science.  Her signature program Jewish Hidden Figures premieres this month in Santa Monica.

She resides in Los Angeles with her 11-year-old son, Max.

It has always been a dream of hers to turn this story into a hardcover book, with illustrations and embedded Torah trope audio. 

15 years later, she’s finally realizing that dream.

Melanie Fine is available for interviews.

Media Contact
Company Name: The Shuttle Story
Contact Person: Melanie Fine
Phone: +17608080918
Country: United States