Have you guys seen the new Star Trek movie yet? Ever notice that the Vulcan salute is a bit familiar? That’s because Leonard Nimoy, the original Mr. Spock, borrowed from Jewish tradition when the screenwriters of the original “Star Trek” series needed a special greeting to incorporate into the action. Nimoy remembered the way the Kohanim – the genealogical descendants of the Jewish high priests who used to serve in the Temple in Jerusalem – would position their fingers for the priestly blessing (known as Nesiat Kapayim in Hebrew). The ritual is associated with Pesach, Shavuot, (which starts at sundown tonight) Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur in the Ashkenazi tradition and performed daily in Israel and among Sephardim.
In the Vulcan salute, much like in the priestly blessing, the index and middle finger are kept together and separated from the ring and little fingers. Thus the hand has three sections, which in Jewish tradition resemble the letter shin, the first letter of one of the names of God. Find out more about the Jewish origin of the Vulcan salute.
Nimoy explained his vision for the Vulcan salute as part of a documentary about the iconic series.