Published: Salon (February 27, 2015)
Nimoy transformed the classic intellectual self-questioning archetype into a dashing “Star Trek” action hero
I suspect I can speak for most American Jews when I say: Before I’d watched even a single episode of “Star Trek,” I knew about Leonard Nimoy.
Although there are plenty of Jews who have achieved fame and esteem in American culture, only a handful have their Jewishness explicitly intertwined with their larger cultural image. Much of the difference has to do with how frequently the celebrity in question alludes to his or her heritage within their body of work. This explains why, for instance, a comedian like Adam Sandler is widely identified as Jewish while Andrew Dice Clay is not, or how pitcher Sandy Koufax became famous as a “Jewish athlete” after skipping Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur, while wide receiver Julian Edelman’s Hebraic heritage has remained more obscure.