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“In memory of Spock” Leonard Nimoy — Spock — Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet

The passing of Leonard Nimoy hits home to the Jewish community, as Spock popularized one-half of the “priestly blessing” as the model for his Vulcan greeting “Live Long and Prosper,” which has a similar cadence to the Genesis (Bereishit) Chapter 1.28 directive “Be Fruitful and Multiply.”

In addition to being a ‘Trek’ fan (not quite a ‘Trekkie’), the loss of Leonard Nimoy saddens me for two reasons. At the beginning of the Friday night Shabbat dinner, as I raised my hands over my sons’ heads to invoke the Cohanim-Priestly blessing, I would tell guests and non-Jewish friends the joy I felt as each year as my hands would be raised higher and higher following the growth of my two sons into adulthood … I would also relate the ‘genesis’ of Spock’s Vulcan greeting, and the significance of being a Cohen.

At times I would share what is written in Torah, Parshat Shmeni, Leviticus (Vayikra) Chapter 9.22, where is states – “And Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them.”

The second reason for my sadness, is that I had a plan to meet the iconic ‘Spock’ of Star Trek, by bringing Leonard Nimoy to Philadelphia for the Franklin Institute’s exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 2011-2012.

The special honor of working for the State of Israel for nine years as Director of Academic Affairs and Community Relations for the Philadelphia Consulate, allowed me to meet scores of amazing people, one being famous Jerusalem archeologist Gabi Barkay, who I constantly see sharing his knowledge on the Discovery Channel.

Nine years ago, I brought Gabi Barkay to speak at the Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). Standing by the door of the lecture room, waiting for him to finish his talk was one of his past students, Judith Hadley, now Bible Professor at Villanova University. As they enjoyed a heartfelt reunion, I heard an amazing story:

In 1979 on an archaeological dig under the guidance of Barkay, Professor Hadley … “found and gave to Gabi a silver piece, the size of a cigarette butt, unrolled to nearly 4inches long. (Which) contained, (the) Priestly Benediction from Numbers 6:24-26. Dated to the seventh century B.C., to the time of the prophet Jeremiah.  2800 years ago, the earliest Bible verses ever found.”

Working closely with the Franklin Institute I proposed a plan to bring Nimoy to Philly, to share his story of the ‘genesis’ of the Vulcan greeting, along with Judith Hadley sharing the story of the archaeological find of the “Scroll of the Priestly Benediction,” with the back-drop of the momentous Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition.

It would have been an amazing educational experience combining pop American culture with its Jewish roots in the ancient and continuing Judaic practices, along with the historic Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, documented through the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Alas, creative and game changing ideas, sometimes need a more influential articulating “Aaron” who can speak for a “slow of tongue” Moses.

Even though the plan did not come to fruition, I will always remember Leonard Nimoy as a champion of Jewish cultural acceptance, and a model for leadership, as he excelled through his acting profession of education through entertainment.