In Israel, Nimoy Talks Jewish Background, Trek ConnectionsBy Michelle
June 4, 2005 - 6:21 PM
On a recent visit to Israel, Leonard Nimoy discussed the Jewish upbringing which informed his portrayal of Mr. Spock on Star Trek, as well as his Jewish-themed artwork and hopes for the peace process.
"I'm a Jewish kid from Boston. Spock is certainly not a Jewish kid from Boston," noted the actor in an interview posted at Starbase 972. Nimoy has spoken several times about his development of the Vulcan salute from a memory of having watched the rabbi bless the congregation in the Orthodox synagogue in his youth. He explained that he hand symbol creates the image of the Hebrew letter shin, the first letter of the word "Shaddai" - one of the names used for God in the Torah.
An interviewer at an exhibit of art and music by young people which Nimoy visited asked the actor about the fact that he had written a book called I Am Not Spock, followed later by another autobiographical volume with the contradictory title I Am Spock. "I think there's a sense of coming to terms and settling for the reality of what has become a very important part of my life," he answered. "When I wrote I Am Not Spock, it was not a rejection of the character. It was an examination of an actor's process in portraying a character, in building a character, and how one lives side by side with that character."
The television interview, which followed Nimoy as he talked about artwork with students, also pondered the topic of Nimoy's own photography in his book Shekinah. Many of the images portray naked women representing the feminine face of God and Nimoy was queried about concerns that the photos would be considered sacreligeous by Orthodox Jews. "I think the simplest answer is that they need not look," he responded, comparing that approach to the fact that Orthodox Jews are told not to look at the Shekinah - sometimes called the Sabbath Bride - during religious services, so celebrants cover their eyes.
In another interview at Ynet, Nimoy discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. "I'm extremely hopeful now," he said, explaining that he thought negotiations would be more effective in the current climate than several months ago. "I'm terribly concerned about violence anywhere in the world...human suffering is human suffering and it touches me very deeply."
"Star Trek is essentially, theoretically, a peacemaking mission," he added. "If asked about the project that I am most proud of in connection with Star Trek, I would say it is Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - a film that I wrote and directed and in which there's no violence. There's no bad person in Star Trek IV. The drama grows out of misunderstanding, lack of information, lack of education...but there's no evil intent."
Nimoy, who had just come from a convention in Germany, added that he might do one in Israel.