What’s the origin of the Vulcan salute?

| David Lewis | Art & Entertainment



You don’t have to be a Trekkie to recognize the famous Vulcan greeting “Live Long and Prosper” combined with the iconic 🖖🏼 salute. But how did it come to be? – This all goes back to the childhood of Leonard Nimoy, the first actor to play Spoc. Growing up in a synagog-going Jewish family, young Nimoy encountered what we now know as a Vulcan salute while the “Kohanim” (Jewish priests) performed this gesture with both hands during prayer. It represents the Hebrew letter Shin (ש), which is the first letter of “Shalom” – meaning hello and peace; “Shehina” – meaning the feminine aspect of God; and “Shadai” which is an acronym for Shomer Dlatot Israel, meaning the guardian of Israelite homes.

When filming “Amok Time”, the first episode Spoc meets another Vulcan, Nimoy suggested they should have a special greeting to represent their unique culture… and the rest is history 🙂

The Kohanim blessing gesture that inspired the Vulcan salute


Bonus fact 1: Under Jewish law, the Kohanim “Shin” salute is forbidden to watch, because when it’s performed, the Shahina (the feminine aspect of God) is believed to materialize and bless the congregation in person – a sight surely deadly to humans. Nonetheless, young Nimoy Sneaked a peek and survived.

Bonus fact 2: It has genetically proven that all the Kohanim – Jewish priests – are descendants of a common ancestor. According to Jewish belief, this ancestor is Aharon, brother of Moses. 

Bonus fact 3: Some people can’t do the Vulcan salute. All Jewish priests can.