The Shmooze

My Memories of Leonard Nimoy, Yiddish-Speaking Vulcan

By Masha Leon

I first met Leonard Nimoy — a.k.a. Spock from the hit TV series “Star Trek,” who died today at 83 on February 27, 2015 — when as a celebrity at the 1973 American Booksellers Convention in Anaheim, California. He stopped by my publishing company’s exhibit booth.

A distant Litvak cousin of my mother’s from Grodno Gubernie (Byten-Slonim) in what is now Belarus, he became a friend and would later be showcased in several of my columns.

Masha Leon and Leonard Nimoy, 1973 // Karen Leon

At the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre’s June 12, 2003 “Broadway Salutes Yiddish” Gala, Nimoy recalled his audition for Maurice Schwartz — actor/director who founded the Yiddish Art Theater. Nimoy joshed, “Schwartz’s wife said: ‘He looks like a goy!’ But when I replied in Yiddish, Schwartz nearly fainted. I got the job.” That night Nimoy sang Itzik Manger’s “Oyfn Veg Sheyt a Boym” (On The Road Stands A Tree) then offered the Vulcan split-finger parting gesture which, he explained, “I first saw as a boy in shul.”

My favorite handwritten Nimoy letter dated August 12, 1994 — on stationery headed Susan Bay Nimoy & Leonard Nimoy reads:

Dear Masha:

Thank you so much or your letter and columns. It means a lot to me to find myself in print in my Zeide’s favorite paper!

I read and enjoy your columns regularly! I was touched by your piece about the your father and totally agree that it was a pity that “only 600 supporters saw the National Foundation for Jewish Culture Awards.

Zei gezunt,
Leonard Nimoy

At the October 9, 2013 American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s benefit at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Nimoy was “beamed” onto the stage and set forth the IPO’s remarkable evolution from its 1933 nascence in Palestine — including a reference to violinist Bronislaw Huberman’s vision to bring Jewish
Courtesy of Masha Leon
Letter from Leonard Nimoy to Masha Leon
musicians from Europe to safety to its present world-class prominence.

A visibly fragile Nimoy left the stage and did not remain, as he had at past events, to mingle with the guests.

With my Nimoy correspondence I found the following Interview that appeared in a blurb from Publishers Weekly — possibly in conjunction with his 1973 ABA appearance: “By the time I was cast as the alien “Spock” in “Star Trek,” I had appeared in several other science fiction vehicles I usually played aliens. I suppose the reason was that I simply didn’t fit the image of the clean-cut astronaut from Terra. Whatever the explanation, I was happy to get the work… There is something very protective, very territorial that lives in the breast of the science fiction reader. Probably that accounts for the outpouring of mail to NBC, which resulted in “Star Trek” being continued for a third season. Many TV station managers have told me they’d rather not answer the phone when they take “Star Trek” off their rerun schedule.

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50 Years Ago: The Forward Building Mourns JFK

By Anne Cohen

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas. Here’s how the Forward mourned:

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Forward! And Away We Go

By Forward Staff

getty images

The Boss, aka Bruce Springsteen, performed a song last night that we just can’t get out of our heads. It’s called “Forward, And Away We Go.” According to USA Today, “Springsteen said Obama called him up — we’re not sure whether he was joking — and said he wanted to close the ‘campaign song gap’ with Republican rival Mitt Romney.” So the boss wrote this short ditty. Have a listen and make sure to shout the name of your favorite Jewish newspaper after each stanza — “Forward!”

Watch the video below

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The Forward Goes High Society

By Laura Sinberg

We wouldn’t normally toot our own horn, but this is just too good to pass up. Last night, the Forward held a party at the Rubin Museum of Art both as a kick-off to a fundraising campaign and a lead-up to a March 8 gala at the Mandarin Oriental. Guests included John Ruskay, CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York; activist and writer Letty Cottin Pogrebin, who recently served as a guest editor of the Forward’s Op-Ed page; and poet Alicia Ostriker, who concluded the night reading several poems, including “Becky and Bernie in Far Rockaway.” Not long after, our friends over at the website New York Social Diary published this glowing review of the events (scroll down to the bottom to see). What can we say, we’re flattered!

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How Forward Staff Members Fared on Pew Religion Quiz

By Abigail Jones

You may not be smarter than a fifth grader, but do you know more about religion than the average American? The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life recently published results from a survey on Americans’ religious knowledge, which found that Jews are among the smartest religious group. (We knew we were smart, but reading about it never gets old.)

The “U.S. Religious Study Survey” found that atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons were among the highest scoring groups in the country, beating out evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics. The findings were based on 32 questions that Pew asked of 3,412 Americans age 18 and older, covering everything from history and world religion to core teachings to religious leaders. (Basically, the kind of questions you might find on “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?”)

Here at the Forward, we decided to see how we measured up. We asked four employees — two Jews and two non-Jews — to take Pew’s Religious Knowledge Quiz, which includes 15 of the questions that appear in the survey. The result? If you work here, you automatically get every question right — except for the really embarrassed person who answered two questions incorrectly, but we won’t name names. Apparently, among journalists at least, knowledge is equal opportunity.

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Gay Tourist Robbed, Left Naked at Israel Intersection

By Michael Kaminer

Criminals apparently got the memo that Tel Aviv’s now hot with gay tourists, as the Forward recently reported. According to JPost.com, a British traveler was lured into a robbery with promises of sex, then left stranded — and naked — at a Tel Aviv intersection by a male perp.

Though reports of the crime just surfaced yesterday, police say the alleged attack took place on April 4. The Briton got friendly with the suspected robber on one of Tel Aviv’s gay-friendly beaches. The victim drove with his new friend to a secluded spot under a bridge, where they started “engaging in sexual acts,” according to JPost. Then the alleged criminal, a Palestinian who lives in the West Bank, threatened the Brit, kicked him out of the car and sped off with his clothes and possessions.

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