With the passing of Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, we analyze his Jewish faith and upbringing which influenced his long and prosperous life.
Leonard Nimoy recently passed away, leaving behind a legacy of logic and adoring fans. While many may think they know Nimoy because they spent years watching him as the Star Trek character “Spock,” they may not be aware of the impact his Jewish faith had on his life, and on Spock. Growing up in a community where Yiddish was commonly spoken, Nimoy had a lot of exposure to his Jewish roots in his Boston neighborhood. That background had a huge influence on him. It made such an impact that elements of his faith became incorporated into one of the most recognizable pop-culture icons of all time.
Long before Star Trek and the inimitable Spock, Nimoy was a young boy who loved magic tricks. At just ten years old, he got his first taste of anti-Semitic rhetoric when a shop owner included an anti-Semitic screed in the bag with one of his purchases from his favorite magic shop. He says the experience caused him a lot of confusion. He was not sure what to do with the “primitive kind of mimeographed anti-Semitic, scurrilous stuff,” so he ended up just throwing it in the trash. He recalled that being a Jew in Boston carried its own dangers, with Catholic children of Italian and Irish descent believing Jews “had killed their Christ.”
Nimoy recalled his family putting much emphasis on a good education so that he could gain security as an adult. They obviously succeeded given his role on Star Trek, where he earned notable prosperity. In fact, Nimoy was a multi-millionaire once the tally was in from his run as Spock. What some fans may not know is that Spock’s most iconic Vulcan salute was informed by his exposure to the Jewish faith as a child.