The Space Torah Project

A Documentary from Verissima Productions

 

What do the Biblical account of The Creation Story and Space Travel have to do with each other? Astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman brought them together by reading the Book of Genesis from a miniature Torah, while gliding through the very “firmament” it is describing. This was a significant event, bringing one of our oldest traditions into a vast new frontier, yet few people, in the Jewish community or beyond, even know that it happened. “Space Torah” will make it possible for people everywhere to experience the majesty of this moment, and consider what it means for our collective spiritual/scientific journey and our place in the cosmos.

Dr. Hoffman has said, “Wherever we go, we bring our spiritual traditions with us. That’s an essential part of what makes us human”. The film will uncover what this experience has meant for his personal understanding of his faith, look at the ways it reinforces the continuing relevance of Torah in the modern world and explore its broader and deeper meanings, through interviews with Torah Scholars, astrophysicists and representatives of other religions. Looking forward, the film will document the ways in which the Space Torah lives on, enriching the worship experience of new generations at a synagogue in Houston.

It will also trace the parallel journeys that Jeffrey Hoffman and the miniature Torah took to be on board the Space Shuttle Columbia for Mission STS-75. He recalls reading a book that referenced the diversity of Jewish Life in New York City by saying, “…one thing that you really can count on is that no New York Jew ever has been — or ever will be — an astronaut.” The ways that Dr. Hoffman was able to disprove this statement will be an inspiration to many, by showing what can be possible. Equally unexpected is the story of how and why this perfect, miniature Torah was created in Israel twenty-five years earlier, and the quest of Jeff’s Rabbi in Houston to discover and then acquire it for his congregant to bring on this space flight.

The film will be designed to be an educational tool for stimulating classroom discussions, but will also present themes of interest to a wide variety of audiences including:

  • The enduring relevance of Torah in the modern world
  • The ultimate compatibility of the Creation Story and science
  • The capacity of Torah to sanctify any space — even outer space
  • Hoffman as a role model/example for achievement and willingness to explore new realms
  • The continued importance of the Space Torah in reaching new generations
  • The wonder of the Creation Story (which in different versions, belongs to all people)

Please help us make it possible for people all over the world to share in this remarkable experience.

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PRODUCTION TEAM

Verissima Productions:  film credits include “The Art of Speaking About the Unspeakable”, a portrait of the artist Samuel Bak, “The Jews of Memphis”, a comprehensive history of Jewish participation in this mid-America city and “Citizens Not Subjects!”, a broadcast documentary about the life of legendary southern political boss E.H. Crump.

Rachel Raz (Executive Producer) is Director of the Early Childhood Institute of the Shoolman School of Jewish Education at Hebrew College. She is a board member of Hillel at U. Mass / Amherst and of Boston’s Israel Academic Forum. Rachel has a BA from Bar-Ilan University, and MJED (Master of Jewish Education) from Hebrew College.

Rob Cooper (Co-Producer) has been producing and directing educational films and broadcast documentaries for over 30 years, including “Good Mornin’ Blues”, with B.B. King, which aired nationally on PBS and won a Cine International Golden Eagle. He was also a producer for WBZ-TV’s “You Gotta Have Arts” which won a NE “Emmy”.

Pam Pacelli Cooper (Co-Producer) is a skilled researcher, oral historian and interviewer. She and Rob have been producing historical films for Verissima Productions since 1999, and were respectively, co-producer and co-director of the documentary “Zamir Chorale: Jewish Voices Return to Poland”, which aired nationally on PBS.

Austin de Besche (Director of Photography) is known by many as the premier DP in New England. He has shot for feature films, TV shows (“Cheers” / “St. Elsewhere“) and broadcast documentaries. He also produced and directed “Pilgrimage Into The Past“, about a man who takes his family on the route of a death march he survived during the holocaust. Ken Burns called it “a fascinating, terribly honest and challenging film…a great film”.

Billy Novick (Composer) wrote the unforgettable score for Verissima Productions “The Art of Speaking About the Unspeakable”. His music has been heard in feature films such as “Any Given Sunday”, “Judge Dredd” and Seabiscuit” and TV shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, “Friends”, and “The Astronaut Wives Club”.

 

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