CROWN HEIGHTS — NASA is working on sending humans to Mars as early as 2030 and some people are already planning for the trip.
Space was the theme for a couple of dozen people that came out to Tech Tribe’s “Chanukah on Mars” talk Wednesday night at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. TechTribe is a Crown Heights non-profit that focuses on the intersectionality of tech, digital communication and Judaism, and the event is part of a three-month-long series dubbed “Jews in Space.” Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone and his wife Chana organized the galactic get-together—a conversation about what another diaspora could mean for Jews.
Fire, water, and food on earth translate differently in space and living there with dietary restrictions could pose more of a challenge.
“If you have an alien species that you’re capable of slaughtering would it not be kosher?” Julie Kite-Laidlaw asked.
The kosher question is one of many issues some Jews will grapple with when space travel becomes mainstream. How to conduct a proper Sukkot is another. These and other questions prompted Nitzan Bartov’s art installation, “Jewish Life on Mars.” The Interaction Designer and architect, of East Williamsburg, first began to think of Jewish life on space as a child watching The Fifth Element – the 1997 science-fiction film with all its 23rd-century grandeur still featured tradition.
“They still had religion,” Bartov said.
With Elon Musk announcing his space program will loop artists around the moon just five years from now, how to transport cultural or religious observances is now a sobering reality.
“If we’re not in the picture of imagining our own lives and what it would be like traveling there on our own terms, someone else is going to be doing that for us,” said Bartov, 32, who’s calling the exhibit “Judah-fiction”.
The two 31″ circular frames mounted on the wall of the space represent a vignette of Jewish life on Mars.
After a sushi and salad buffet, Bartov and Miriam Kramer of Mashable unpacked other Jewish-related space topics. One of which involved lighting a menorah in space.
Since oxygen levels are too low to burn outdoors, observing traditions that involve fire could be tricky. Space and science reporter Kramer warned against lighting fires inside, however.
“It’s like setting your home on fire but you wouldn’t be able to go outside away from the fire,” she said. She suggested small contained metal boxes, that scientist use to research fire, could work for the holiday tradition.
But what about dates? Because the Jewish calendar represents both the sun and the moon phases, on Mars, one could observe Passover twice a year. Kosher light switches could help preserve the Sabbath, once, of course, a day is set.
Wondering about that kosher meal 33.9 million miles away?
“Anything you can make on earth, you can bring to space in some way,” said the space reporter Kramer. “It just that it’s going to be freeze-dried.”