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They’re baaack!

Through some weird confluence of circumstances, UFOs are back in the news. Maybe the events of the past couple of years have led people to look elsewhere, to the skies, for meaning. Maybe the renewed interest in alien visitations to our planet is a form of escapism, especially as we seem to be mucking this one up in a fast and furious manner.

Or maybe it’s just time for a close encounter of the fifth kind, wherein humans and extraterrestrials make direct contact. (There are seven kinds of encounters: the fourth is human abduction, the sixth is an attack on humans, the seventh is the creation of an alien/human hybrid, which might explain Kim Kardashian.) If and when contact occurs, there will be a number of rabbis lined up to explain how this was all foretold in the Bible.

 

In the past week or so, The New York Times has run at least two articles on UFOs. About a month ago, the New Yorker ran a long-form piece reviewing the history of the search for UFOs. In a recent interview, former President Barack Obama — who presumably had access to the most secret governmental dossiers about alien visitations — said, “What is true, and I’m actually being serious here, is that there are, there’s footage and records of objects in the skies, that we don’t know exactly what they are. We can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory. They did not have an easily explainable pattern. And so, you know, I think that people still take seriously trying to investigate and figure out what that is.”

Last year, former CIA director John Brennan told a podcast that UFO sightings might be “some type of phenomenon that is the result of something that we don’t yet understand and that could involve some type of activity that some might say constitutes a different form of life.” And just last month, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of Inspector General said that it will conduct evaluations into the “extent to which the DoD has taken actions regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” a move spurred by several UFO sightings by U.S. military forces over the past year. (Presumably they were told to set their phasers on stun.) A Congressional inquiry into UFOs is expected to release a report in late June.

A decade ago, the Forward ran a short piece entitled “Putting Israel’s UFO Frenzy Into Historical Perspective,” after videos surfaced purporting to show UFOs hovering over the Jerusalem skyline. Unidentified flying objects are no stranger to the Holy Land. The Bible is full of accounts of sightings of heavenly beings. Indeed, a cornerstone of Jewish liturgy is the line from Psalms 19:2 — “The heavens declare the glory of God” —- which some sages read to mean that we earthly inhabitants are not alone among the creatures in the universe who praise Hashem.

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