Leonard Nimoy grew up in an orthodox Jewish home. He knows Yiddish, the language Jews spoke in Eastern Europe before WWII. He was very intrigued by our film…
In fact, the morning that we recorded him, he insisted, before we recorded him, that he see the beginning of the film. As he watched he became more entranced. He laughed and pointed out things to us, and insisted on continuing. We ended up watching the entire film with him!
While shooting Carpati we went to a few Jewish cemeteries. (In some towns, unfortunately, this is all that remains today of a once vibrant and beautiful Jewish life.) On one of the gravestones we found this:
As a child he saw the Cohen (certain men in any Jewish synogogue are the “Cohen”) blessing the congregation by raising their hands together in an interesting way. This hand gesture became a part of Nimoy’s character in Star Trek.
Nimoy says that much of Spock’s alien identity — not just the hand gesture — came from an Orthodox Jewish upbringing in Boston.
Spock, who existed in a kind of diaspora because he belonged nowhere, was comfortable neither on earth nor on Vulcan.
“Mr. Spock is a character of dignity and a good role model,” Nimoy says, “and I have no problem being him.”
I included the first shot above in Carpati… if only as a private laugh for those who know this fact about Jewish life…