Showing posts with label Leonard Nimoy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leonard Nimoy. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Chag Pesach sameach, happy First Contact Day

Mosaic in Netherlands, reading, "בשמאלה עשר וכבוד"
("in her left hand riches and honor") (Proverbs 3:16),
showing "Kohanim hands."
(Kleuske via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

Passover periodically coincides with First Contact Day, as it does this year, on April 5, 2023.

Passover is a major Jewish holiday, thus moves with the lunisolar Hebrew calendar. The cause for celebration is not exclusive to Judaism, as the holiday marks the Israelite escape from slavery in Egypt. Passover was on April 5 most recently in 1985, 1993, and 2004, but it won't happen again until 2069.

April 5 is also First Contact Day, a delightful celebration from the fictional Star Trek universe marking the day that earthbound humans first learn they are not alone in the universe. Vulcans revealed, or will reveal, themselves to humans on April 5, 2063, so the holiday often is identified with the Vulcan hand gesture of fingers paired and separated in a "V."

There's more connection between the two holidays than an occasional overlap on the calendar. In 1967, Leonard Nimoy, the actor who first played Mr. Spock, the famous Vulcan of Star Trek lore, borrowed the hand gesture from his Jewish heritage.  The Take explained the origin:

[Nimoy] drew upon childhood memories of Jewish synagogue services he attended with his Yiddish-speaking grandfather. The V-shaped position is the shape of the Hebrew letter "shin," which is the representative letter of the word "Shaddai," a term for God, and is a gesture traditionally used by the Kohanim (Hebrew "priests"), Jews of priestly descent, during a blessing ceremony. It’s also the first letter of "Shalom," the Jewish word for hello, goodbye, and peace.

The "Vulcan salute" (🖖) earned emoji status in 2014. Usually accompanied by the utterance, "Live long and prosper," it's not so distant a cousin of shalom.

Thanks to attorney, and my long-ago TA, Kevin Hart for being the first to wish me a happy First Contact Day, and to my friend Professor Robert Steinbuch for reminding me of the Vulcan salute's Jewish heritage.

Chag Pesach sameach, and happy First Contact Day.