When I was young, I used to insist to anyone who would listen — granted, not a supremely impressive number — that Star Trek was secretly founded by Jews. My proof? Mainly, the Vulcan “live long and prosper” salute, and the fact that its costars (William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy) were both Jewish — and the fact that the top half of the Enterprise looks like a giant yarmulke.
Little did I know that there was an entire underground of Star Trek/Judaism tie-ins. That not only were the people in front of the camera Jewish, but Bob Justman and Herb Solow, who coproduced with Gene Roddenberry and wrote many of the original episodes, were. And, of course, that J.J. Abrams, who helmed the most recent movie (and guest-edited the new issue of Wired) is as well (his real name? Jeffrey Jacob Abrams).
But don’t leave it to these surface who-is-a-Jewgles. Rabbi Yonassan Gershom (pictured) has spent literally years collecting and furnishing the website TrekJews.com, a compendium of all things Trek and Jewish, and whose new book, Jewish Themes in Star Trek, explores both the outer and inner levels of Judaism and Trek-ness, and posits what I’ve always known in my heart — that Vulcan culture is based on rabbinical Judaism.
And, of course, check out MJL’s new article on Star Trek to see what the sudden abundance of geekiness in pop culture really means.