Take the 2-minute tour ×
Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have heard many times that the Vulcan "Live-long-and-prosper" hand gesture was created by Leonard Nimoy based upon the hebrew letter "shin", as used in Jewish ceremonies.

William Shatner is also Jewish.

Did this shared background of the two most prominent actors on the show (sorry, George Takei!) have any other influences on the show, aside from the salute (limited to the original television series)?

share|improve this question
The hand gesture is used for the Priestly Blessing –  DampeS8N Feb 20 '13 at 18:32
@DampeS8N Thanks for the clarification, for the uninitiated. However, it seems the OP is aware of this - note that the Wiki article you've linked mentions the formation of the letter "shin" in the Procedure section. –  Iszi Feb 20 '13 at 19:04
@Iszi Yes, but since we were getting answers that got it wrong... –  DampeS8N Feb 20 '13 at 19:36
Shatner was Jewish? When did he get excommunicated? (I bet after making those inhumane hotel price commercials) –  DVK Feb 20 '13 at 20:12
@Beofett - according to Wiki, he was born to jewish parents. And technically speaking it's impossible to "unjew" oneself or get thrown out - even being declared in herem doesn't make one not Jewish, nor does converting to another religion. It's like GPL. –  DVK Feb 20 '13 at 22:03

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Aside from the shin gesture, nothing distinct, although Nimoy claims judaism shaped his influences on his character. The show's creator made it clear that he wanted the show to be non-religious.

Although Roddenberry was raised as a Southern Baptist, he instead considered himself a humanist and agnostic. He saw religion as the cause of many wars and human suffering. Brannon Braga has said that Roddenberry made it known to the writers of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation that religion and mystical thinking were not to be included, and that in Roddenberry's vision of Earth's future, everyone was an atheist and better for it. However, Roddenberry was clearly not punctilious in this regard, and some religious references exist in various episodes of both series under his watch.

He didn't keep the show completely clear of it, though. For example, from "Who Mourns For Adonais?"

Kirk says: "Scotty doesn't believe in gods" and also "Man has no need for gods. 
We find the one quite sufficient".

And, as another example, the chapel [a curious permanent area on the ship for non-religious crew] from "Balance of Terror": enter image description here

share|improve this answer
You mean secular, right? –  Junuxx Feb 21 '13 at 15:06
@Junuxx thanks! Fixed. –  Solemnity Feb 22 '13 at 4:10

Based on my brief research (assorted Googling, checking Wiki/MemoryAlpha), this seems to have been the only identifiable influence from either those 2 actors, or from 2 Jewish co-writers of TOS.

You can possibly count somewhat-maybe-possibly remotely-Holocaust-related themes of 2 episodes ("The City on the Edge of Forever" where they travel to start of WWII, and "The Conscience of the King" that is thematically similar to hunt for Nazi war criminals), discussed here. Frankly, not much of a connection, never mind unproven influence.

share|improve this answer

Going from memory now, so this may not be correct.

I remember a television interview that Leonard did where he mentioned that, as a child one day in temple he watched the rabbi make the "live long and prosper" sign with his hand. The sign was meant to represent the Hebrew "aleph" . Sorry, I'm not Jewish so I can't explain the meaning of the sign.

So the whole Vulcan "live long and prosper" sign has Jewish roots.

Sorry, no cite. Maybe someone else can come up with it.

share|improve this answer
This is already addressed in the question, and the Wiki article linked in the comment. The OP is asking if there's been any other evidence of Shatner's & Nimoy's Jewish heritage having influence on the show. –  Iszi Feb 20 '13 at 19:05
Right. And it's shin, not aleph. –  Dima Feb 20 '13 at 21:37

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.