“Star Trek” premiered in 1966, which means that we're heading for an obscene amount of 50th anniversary coverage next year. It also means that there have been nearly 50 years of Jewish children who grew up nudging their siblings and parents when the rabbi ended the service with the priestly benediction, because when the rabbi raises his hands to emulate the Hebrew letter shin, what he's doing is the Vulcan salute.
I grew up knowing that fictionally Leonard Nimoy was a Vulcan, but I also grew up knowing that he was in reality, Leonard Nimoy was Jewish and he'd brought his background to “Star Trek” in the form of the famous and familiar raised hand and spread fingers. Jewish culture has been disseminated into secular culture in countless ways, but this is one of my favorites.
This interview from the Yiddish Book Center is spectacular for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are that Leonard Nimoy is a glorious storyteller and there's something wonderful in hearing even snippets of Leonard Nimoy doing Jewish prayers. With that voice, he would have made a heck of a cantor.
But if you didn't know the origin of the Vulcan salute? Now you do.
Say Kaddish for the late Leonard Nimoy.