Space Left Behind: Ilan Ramon’s Diary Has Arrived

He was the kind of guy everyone wants to be. Ilan Ramon’s story began in Be’er Sheva in Israel’s Negev desert and came to an end somewhere beyond our planet. But before he became the first Israeli astronaut, he was just Ilan – a husband, father, son, and brother. Miraculously, the diary he kept aboard Space Shuttle Columbia survived. This diary, containing his personal feelings as well as descriptions of the historic event he was a part of, somehow landed relatively intact in Texas. It later underwent complex restoration processes and recently received a warm welcome at its new home – the National Library of Israel, where it is on extended loan.

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Freedom Under Siege: The Last Seder in Kfar Etzion

How can one celebrate the festival of freedom, with the clear knowledge that your life or liberty will be taken from you in just a few days? The Seder night of 1948 was one of the last nights of freedom for those in besieged Gush Etzion, but this fact did not prevent the isolated group of men from creating the most celebratory atmosphere possible under the circumstances.

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How Did Queen Esther Become a Christian Saint?

They fled from Spain to neighboring Portugal but were soon forced to cross the Atlantic on their way to the New World. They were baptized as Christians against their will and were forced to remove any signs that hinted at their Jewish heritage. But they were willing to risk their lives to hold on to something. This is the story of the conversos who invented a Christian saint who was in fact a Jewish queen, to remind themselves of who they truly were.

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I, Woman: Janet Asimov Tells Her Story

Both were writers, both were doctors – she in psychiatry, he in chemistry. But does the name Janet Opal ring a bell if it isn’t attached to the famous surname she received from her husband? Janet Opal Asimov was her husband Isaac’s right hand throughout their years of marriage. She shared credit with him for quite a few books, short stories, and essays she wrote, and edited many of his writings. But even though her work was often overshadowed, she was a fascinating woman who deserves to be remembered in her own right.

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From Fantasy to Reality: The Forbidden Love of Edith and J.R.R. Tolkien

“For she was (and knew she was) my Lúthien.” This was how Tolkien explained the unorthodox choice of words which he placed on the tombstone of the woman he loved. What was the connection between Lúthien – the mythological image of female perfection which Tolkien himself created – and his wife Edith? And what caused their three-year separation, which almost ended in her marrying someone else?

Children of Heroes: The Story of Ma’ale HaHamisha

Is it a good idea to raise children in a place constantly under enemy fire? How much joy can there be for a ten-month-old baby whose father has died for a cause? This is a story of childhood spent in Kibbutz Ma’ale HaHamisha – a story of love, laughter and dedication, alongside constant threat and loss

The Story of a Nation That Redeems Its Captives

From Abraham who saved his nephew from captivity, to IDF helicopters carrying Israeli hostages back from Gaza – for thousands of years, Jews have fought, paid any sum necessary, and even endangered their lives to redeem and save their brethren from captivity and imprisonment

A Jewish Game of Thrones: The Bloody Tragedy of the Hasmonean Dynasty

We think we know them from the story of Hannukah and its miracles, but the heroic victory of Judah the Maccabee was just the prologue to the broader story of the Hasmonean Kingdom – a story that begins with a single family’s dream of an independent Judea, continues with military and political glory papering over deep internal rot, and ends with destruction and the death of a beautiful queen at the hands of her husband