An Israeli on the Dark Side of the Moon

Stand for Israel  |  August 24, 2022

Racah crater on dark side of the moon as seen by Apollo 17
(Photo: NASA)

The people of Israel have contributed so much to the world, and for those of us who stand for Israel, it’s always nice when God’s children are recognized for the good they do. And what better way than to have a landmark in the heavens named for an Israeli we should all know?

Born in Florence, Italy, in 1909 and raised there in a Jewish family, Giulio Racah studied in Rome under famed physicist Enrico Fermi, the father of the nuclear age. But when anti-Semitic laws were put into place in Fascist-controlled Italy – an Axis power along with Nazi Germany – Racah made aliyah to the Holy Land.

Despite being a renowned scientist in his own right, Racah served his new country, Israel, during her War of Independence in 1948, acting as deputy commander of the IDF forces defending Mt. Scopus.

But it is Racah’s career in science for which he is most remembered. After making aliyah in 1939, Dr. Racah taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he also served as dean, rector, and president, and where he did his most important scientific work, including devising a technique for calculating atomic structure that is still used today.

Racah died tragically in an accident caused by a faulty heater while visiting his birthplace of Italy. But he is remembered for his many accomplishments. The physics department at Hebrew University is named for him – The Racah Institute of Physics. And, as seen by very few people including those who took the above photograph from the Apollo 17 mission, Dr. Giulio Racah was honored with the naming of the Racah Crater on the dark side of the moon.