Brow Beat

Listen to Leonard Nimoy Explain the Jewish Origins of His Famous Vulcan Hand Greeting

Leonard Nimoy, who passed away Friday, sat down with the Wexler Oral History Project last year, his impressive Yiddish skills on full display. In the video below, Nimoy describes the origin of his famous Star Trek hand greeting: The Jewish priestly blessing, or duchening. He’d already revealed this in his 1975 autobiography I Am Not Spock, but the video is still delightful.  

As a curious young boy at synagogue, Nimoy recalled peeking from under his father’s talit as the priests blessed the congregation. He described what he saw as “magical.” Years later, while filming an episode of Star Trek, the first with other Vulcans, he suggested a special greeting—and it stuck. “It’s great,” he said, “people don’t realize they’re blessing each other.”