Sunday, March 1, 2015

Remembering Leonard Nimoy and the Jewishness of Star Trek


Leonard Nimoy, the actor who created the role of Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan on Star Trek, passed away on Friday at the age of 83. 

We were never among the trekkies who couldn't miss a single episode of the TV series and its many spin-offs, and we never waited on line for hours dressed in Star Trek costumes to get the first tickets to the 12 feature films that followed.

But we always took special pride in knowing that the series was built around Jewish values. While there were always rumors to that effect, we had a strong feeling that Star Trek owed a huge debt to Judaism. 

Nimoy verified this in some interviews that he gave over the years, especially the origin of the "Live Long and Prosper" Vulcan salute. One year ago we posted a video clip of a Nimoy interview at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. In May 2012 we posted the complete commencement address that he gave to the graduates of Boston University's College of Fine Arts, in which he spoke freely about his Jewish roots.

But with his passing, and as a tribute to this great Jewish actor, we wanted to share with you a more complete retelling, with appropriate props, of the origin of the Vulcan salute, and how it was based on his experience in an Orthodox synagogue when the Kohanim chanted the priestly blessing.

Mr. Spock, we will miss you.

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)