Yeshiva Ketana students make history with the Enterprise space shuttle


On Friday morning, JFK International Airport hosted the arrival of the Shuttle Enterprise on its final journey. The Enterprise was flown from Washington, DC to New York in preparation for its installation on the deck of the USS Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum in July. Amongst the many dignitaries and VIPs invited to welcome the shuttle to New York, was a group of students from Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island.

The Yeshiva Ketana group was invited to the event in recognition of the historical achievement of having designed, tested and flown an experiment on the final space shuttle mission last July. As shuttle Atlantis lifted off the pad at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on mission STS-135 (the final mission), a group of students from Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island watched in awe from the NASA facility as their year’s work, an experiment analyzing the formation of crystals in zero gravity and zero atmosphere, was rocketing towards the morning sky.

The Yeshiva received a call several days earlier from Sheri Levinky Raskin, Assistant Vice President of Education for the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum, inviting them to bring a group. It seems that attention was drawn to this group of boys from Yeshiva Ketana by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and N.Y.S. Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder since this is the only school in the entire State of New York that has ever submitted and been awarded an opportunity to send an experiment into space.

The group of boys, led by Stew Greenberg, Director of Educational Technology and co-coordinator of “YKLI in Space,” was accompanied by General Studies Principal, Mrs. Zehava Kraitenberg and School Administrator, Mrs. Chanie Picker. While waiting for the momentous occasion to unfold, the boys had a rare opportunity to discuss their achievement with Senator Schumer who seemed quite interested in hearing of their accomplishments and to acknowledge their place in New York State and U.S. history.

The students got the opportunity to meet the crew that flew the Shuttle Carrier as well as the pilots who flew the NASA chase jets that escorted the Enterprise to New York. While standing near the shuttle and admiring its awesome size, the President of the Intrepid, Susan Marenoff-Zausner made mention of the team from Yeshiva Ketana and recognized their achievement and historical project in front of all in attendance. The news crews jumped out to capture the moment and the boys didn’t flinch.

It was an awesome close to a year of stellar achievement by the fifth, sixth and seventh graders. The team was privileged to witness the final flight of the shuttle era with Atlantis STS-135 in July, and now were witness to the final voyage of the Enterprise to New York City. This is certainly something that they will remember and share with their children and grandchildren. We congratulate the team, their parents, and the Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island on their achievements and eagerly await their next opportunity to make and witness history.