Shalom Life | April 26, 2015

Spock's Iconic "Live Long and Prosper" Hand Gesture is Originally a Jewish Sign

Spock's Leonard Nimoy incorporated several Jewish traditions to his Vulcan character

By: Daven Hiskey

Published: June 2nd, 2012 in Culture » TV » News

Spock's Iconic "Live Long and Prosper" Hand Gesture is Originally a Jewish Sign

Most know that Star Trek’s Spock was played by follow tribe member Leonard Nimoy, but did you know that the iconic “live long and prosper” hand gesture was originally a Jewish sign?

The hand gesture is a slight modification of the gesture still used today by orthodox Jews of the Kohanim, priests descended from Ahron by the patrilineal line. The hand gesture forms the letter “Shin”, which represents the name “Shaddai” meaning “Almighty” (God).

The Kohanim use the Shin gesture during a blessing ceremony, the nesiat kapayim or the “Priestly Blessing”, that accompanies the prayer service. The actual Jewish blessing is done with both hands, not just one, extended outward.

This modified gesture used by Star Trek’s Vulcan’s was originally Nimoy’s idea. Though Nimoy is not an orthodox Jew himself, when he was a child, his grandfather would take him to the synagogue. During his time there, he observed this blessing and subsequent gesture and, according to his autobiography, was very impressed by the ceremony; remembering it later while filming “Amok Time”, which is the first place the now iconic gesture appeared in Star Trek.

In “Amok Time”, Spock was originally supposed to kneel before the Vulcan matriarch, with the matriarch placing her hands on his shoulders in a knighting type gesture. Nimoy didn’t like this as Vulcan’s were touch telepaths. Thus, he felt this original gesture would be an invasion of privacy for a Vulcan. He then drew on his Jewish roots to come up with an alternate gesture.

The hand gesture itself wasn’t the only part that was borrowed from Jewish tradition. The “live long and prosper” and the lesser known Vulcan traditional response of “peace and long life” was based on the Jewish “Shalom Aleichem” (peace be upon you) and the traditional reply of “Aleichem Shalom” (upon you be peace).

Portions of this article were taken from Todayifoundout.com

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