In an interview conducted with the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, the late Leonard Nimoy explained how he arrived at the iconic forked-finger Vulcan salute.
Nimoy, who played the half-human half-Vulcan Mr. Spock in the “Star Trek” television series and in films, passed away at his home in Los Angeles on Friday at age 83.
The actor had previously explained that the salute, consisting of a raised hand palm forward with the fingers split into a ‘v,’ came from a Jewish ceremonial blessing that he witnessed when his grandfather took him to an Orthodox synagogue as a child.
In the video, Nimoy recalled the eerie “discordant’ chanting he heard at the synagogue, before demonstrating the gesture with both hands.
Nimoy recalled an episode of Star Trek where his character would encounter other Vulcans, and how he wanted to develop a special greeting reflective of the Vulcan culture.
“So I said to the director, ‘I think we should have some special greeting that the Vulcans do’,” he explained. “You know we have these rituals, these things that humans do. We shake hands, we nod to each other, we bow to each other. We salute each other. What do Vulcans do? So I suggested to him this. [holding up his hand] He said okay.”
Nimoy admitted, “Boy, that just took off through the culture. It’s amazing. Then days after I was doing it on the screen, I was getting this. People doing this to me. Waving to me.”
Watch the video below, uploaded by the New York Times: