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How Israel and Apollo 11 shared the giant leap for mankind

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Apollo 11 Footprint

The final U.S. space shuttle mission returns today, July 20, the 42nd anniversary of man landing on the moon. While the crowning achievement in space exploration belongs to the U.S., the event also captured the attention of the Israeli people. Brief timeline of 1969 after the jump.

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    Timeline: 1969 Apollo 11 Mission

    May 27 – Mayor Teddy Kollek sends a Jerusalem medal and a message of thanks to Thomas Stafford, commander of the Apollo 10 spacecraft who chose Psalm 122 as part of his Sunday space sermon during the recent moon flight. The sermon read, in part, "our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem." The medal is accompanied by an invitation to visit Israel’s capital. (Link)

    July 8 - Israeli Ambassador Gen. Yitzhak Rabin accepts invitation to witness Apollo 11 launching in Cape Kennedy; Israel’s President Zalman Shazar to send English translation from Psalms: "Abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth" (Link)

    July 16 – Rabin and Jeruham Kafkafi, scientific attache at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, watch the Apollo 11 launch from Cape Kennedy. launching is headline news in Israeli newspapers, "overshadowing all local events." Crowds of Israelis gather at the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv to listen to a description of the launching broadcast by the U.S. Information Service. (Link 1) (Link 2)

    July 17 – At Air Force Day ceremonies in Israel, commander Moshe Dayan pays tribute to the Apollo 11 astronauts. (Link)

    July 21 – Rabin conveys congratulatory messages to Nixon from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and President Zalman Shazar. (Link)

    July 21 – Moon landing has theological implications for Jews. Gen. Shlomo Goren, the Armed Forces’ Chief Chaplain, issues instructions about a change in the Jewish blessing over the new moon (kiddush levana). The old blessing was worded: "As I dance before you and cannot touch you, so my enemies will not be able to touch me." It now reads: "As I dance against you and do not touch you, so others, if they dance against me to harm me, they will not touch me." The new version of the prayer is actually an old one found in the Talmud in Masechet Soffrim, chapter 20. (Link)

    July 21 – Scientist Dr. Emanuel Gil-Av from Weizman Institute in Rehovot visits Houston, will take part in analysis of lunar samples. (Link)

    August 3 – Nixon thanks Israel for congratulatory messages (Link)

[Image: Footprint on the moon from Apollo 11 mission, via NASA/Wikimedia Commons]

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