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Alexander Friedman – The SpaceIL System Engineering Manager

Born 1950 in Russia.

He make aliyah  to Israel [immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the Land of Israel (Eretz Israel)] in 1970.

Graduated M. Sc. In Applied Mathematics by Jerusalem Hebrew University.

More than 35 years experience in satellites design.

Major positions: founder and first Manager of System  Engineering  Department at MBT Space, System Engineering Manger of AMOS1,  AMOS2 and AMOS 3, LEOP Mission Manager of AMOS1 and AMOS 3, Satellites Systems Manager at Spacecom Ltd. Joint  SpaceIL at beginning of 2015.

One of the chief engineers involved in the creation and post-launch supervision of the Moon-bound Israeli spacecraft Beresheet is a Chabad – Lubavitch Chassid.

He directs the control room of 25 Israeli scientists monitoring the “Beresheet” satellite as it makes its way to the Moon.

His father, Zalman, a combat engineering officer in the Soviet army, was jailed for Jewish activism just before his son was born, accused with dozens of other Jews and fellow Chabad contemporaries of collecting money to smuggle Jews to Israel. He was sentenced to labor camp in Kazakhstan for seven years. As a result, father and son didn’t meet until Alexander was 7. With the help of doctors’ notes, the boy would feign sickness to avoid having to attend school on Shabbat, one of the many other tactics the family used to persevere in their practice of Judaism.

Alexander, his mother, Dina, a medical secretary, and his grandparents lived in a two-room virtually mud and straw hut without internal plumbing in Moscow, awaiting the father’s return. One of the young Friedman’s fond memories was hearing his grandfather’s sing-song voice reciting Psalms early in the morning.

Now he is a graduate with a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Hebrew University and with more than 35 years of experience in satellite design, he is the systems-engineering manager and control room director among some 25 scientists monitoring the Moon launch from the ground.

Just before the space launch, Friedman, a father of seven and grandfather of 21 who lives in Nof Ayalon in the center of Israel, commented about what he felt was exceptionally momentous about his involvement in the project.

Friedman expounded on what it has been like to be a serious Torah-observant Jew and an equally serious rocket scientist throughout his career, claiming in the end to have exceptional role models.

Maimonides was a doctor and an astronomer and the Lubavitcher Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson] studied electrical engineering, mathematics and physics [Sorbonne, Paris],” he noted. Regarding being surrounded in the program largely by non-practicing Jews, “As long as everything is done with mutual respect and acceptance of the other, there should be no problem,” he told Kfar Chabad magazine. “I feel like a shaliach [emissary]. Like the Rebbe always said, a Jew should be an emissary in every place that he is.”

Friedman had a prayer composed for the success of the mission, which expressed the hope that G‑d should “lead our spacecraft to peace and bring it to peace, and save it from all sorts of malfunctions, and allow us to see it reach the Moon in peace. And may You bring it back in happiness and in peace.”

Thanks to Friedman, a digitally encoded Chitas (Chumash, Tehlillim, Tanya) is part of the payload being delivered to the Moon.