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By Erin McCusker
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 3, 1997

Speech at Hillel links science and religion

Looking up at the night sky is a way of looking at one's heritage, a local Jewish astronomer and author told students Saturday.

"They're not just points of light. Stars in space are part of our galaxy with comets responsible for our heritage," David Levy said to members of Hillel.

Hillel, a student group, sponsored "Havadalah Under the Stars" at the Flandrau Planetarium Saturday night.

Havadalah is the formal end to Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath that begins on Friday nights after the sun sets. The tradition is to find three stars in the night sky to mark the beginning of Havadalah.

"For me, it is a special affirmation, a special way for me to join my love of Judaism with my commitment to the sky and stars," Levy said.

Science tries to understand the how, while religion seeks to understand the why, Levy said. These two are not necessarily separate, he added.

Levy, who has discovered seven comets and written the same number of books, explained to Hillel students that the tradition of finding three stars stems from the question of how not to end Shabbat too soon.

Finding three stars marks the sun's passing below the horizon and the end of the day, he said.

The tradition "begins with a subject that seems to be very narrow." That narrow subject opens an enormous question of stars, sky and Judaism," Levy said.

"What I think Judaism is trying to tell us is to go out and examine our heritage," he said.

After Levy's presentation, Hillel students used the Flandrau Planetarium telescope to view the first three stars in the night sky.

"I thought it was pretty incredible, said Eric Grosman, an undeclared freshman. "It made me look at religion different and wonder what really happened, why we're really here."

Jennifer Krantz, an undeclared freshman, said, "It made it reality. I'm taking a planetary science class and it made what I learned in class real."

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