(Note: Ilan Ramon was not the first Jew in space -- that honor went to American astronaut Judith Resnik (<<<<-------shown here on the left), of the Challenger crew, may she also rest in peace among the shining souls in the heavenly Garden of Eden. Read more on Judith Resnik...
My Jewish Star Trek project was inspired by a class I once taught at the Minneapolis Talmud Torah back in the 1980s, and explores such Trekker topics as: Jewish origin of the Vulcan salute; How Vulcan culture is based on rabbinical Judaism; Do the Romulans resemble modern Israelis; Is Worf really a Klingon version of a ba'al tshuvah? Plus: I have proof positive that the Ferengi were based on Yankee traders, not the Jews!
And lots more. I spent over 15 years working on this project. Rumors of this book have been around for five years -- that's the time my agent and I spent being told that there is no market for it. What??? With millions of Jews and millions more Trekkers (and a lot of people who are both!), they've got to be kidding! No market? Then again, publishers are notorious for turning down good books. So, I have decided to self-publish it on lulu.com. (They print to order and the quality is very nice.)
Like my previous three books (on reincarnation -- see my FAQ) Jewish Themes in Star Trek combines careful scholarship with easy readability. I had a great time writing it, and I included plenty of my personal reactions and insights. (I've been a Trekker since the first episode aired, and Trekdom has had a very positive effect on my life.)
Order your copy NOW on lulu.com -- Simply go to my Lulu homepage where you will find options to buy it in hardcover, paperback, or a download.
One interesting bit of personal trivia: When I went to the NASA site to find a cover image, I looked through lot of Hubble shots of planets, galaxies, nebulae etc. until I found the one I liked. Only then did I look at the name of it -- Nebula NGC1818 -- double chai! Is there a better sign that the time is right for this book? You can download a FREE copy of my desktop graphic of the original Enterprise flying through Nebula NGC1818 -- just go to this page on box.net.
Was Gene Roddenberry Jewish? Very emphatically NO!!! His family were Southern Baptists, a Christian tradition that he later rejected in favor of secular humanism. I do not know how this rumor about Roddenberry being Jewish got started (based on his name maybe?), but I keep finding it all over the Web. In Jewish Themes in Star Trek, I devote a whole chapter to Roddenberry, called "Great Bird of the Galaxy," which goes into his religious and philosophical background, using material based on his own autobiography and various interviews, as well as outside opinions. It is very clear that he was not in any way shape or form Jewish. In fact, I doubt he even knew that the Vulcan salute came from Jewish tradition, since Nimoy did not tell that story until long after the series ended. Any Jewishness we see in the series was due to the creativity of various writers, actors, producers and directors, some of whom were/are Jewish. Harve Bennett, for example, was born Chaim Fishman. Nimoy and Shatner are Jewish, as are Walter Koenig, Brent Spiner, Bob Justman, Rick Berman, Herb Solow, Ira Steven Behr, J.J. Abrams, etc. But not Roddenberry!)
The first character in the Trek universe to clearly identify as a Jew was Darya Bat-Levi, who appears in a 2003 Star Trek novel, Well of Souls by Ilsa J. Bick. On pgs. 30-33 Bat-Levi clearly says "I'm Jewish" and discusses some points of Jewish law and theology. (Read my review of this book on Amazon...)
More Star Trek novels with (maybe) Jewish characters... (Interestingly, this list seems to have been picked up by somebody editing over on Memory Alpha, the online Trek encyclopedia. When I went there to look at their Judaism page, there was an abbreviated version of this list (in basically the same order!), along with a link back to this website. I'm glad to see I've already contributed something worthwhile to Trekdom. Web searches for "Jewish Star Trek" also flag this website at the top of the list. Am I really the only one doing this research??? If yes, that proves there is a need for my book!)
You might want to sign up for my TrekJews group on Yahoo Groups. (You will not be spammed. I do not sell or share my mailing lists.) Come nitpick my book or discuss anything else related to Jews and Star Trek.
Another list you should check out is trek-cochavim (That's "Star Trek" in Hebrew. Not to worry -- the list itself is in English). Trek-cochavim has been around for years, and is probably the first Jewish Trek list on the Net. It's a regular email listserv (not a newsletter) and produces a lot of messages. It's also hot-and-heavy debate in the Talmudic tradition, so wear a flak jacket if you are sensitive to flames. Or, you can just search the archives.
Check out my book reviews on Amazon.com. Find out what I've been reading, watching, or listening to lately (not all of it Star Trek, but most of it somehow Jewish.) I'm currently on Amazon's list of Top Reviewers, voted there by readers like you. Thank you!
Here's a bit of little-known Jewish Trek trivia: In Alan Dean Foster's novelization of the Animated Episode, "The Ambergris Element," felinoid crewmember M'Ress plays a game of draydel with her Academy roommate, Lena Goldblum. (For those of you who are not Jewish, a draydel is a spinning top used in a Hanukkah game.) This incident does not appear in the episode itself, but clearly Foster was trying to include Jews in his version. I fell in love with M'ress (well, not literally) when I first met her in some early Trek novels, because I'm a cat person. (We have 13 cats.) But I didn't discover that she was from the Animated Series until relatively recently. This is because the series first aired on Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath -- a day I do not watch TV. Visit a great site about the Animated Series...)
Attention Jewish Trekkers: Check out this "Shalom Hand" jewelry in a variety of styles (necklaces, pins, tie clips, etc.) exclusive original design from Dor L'Dor, (from generation to generation). Dor L'Dor is an educational resource center which creates learning materials for special needs Jewish children. Their Shalom Hand design not only is like the Vulcan salute, it also spells out "Shalom" (peace) in Hebrew letters. And it comes in either left or right hand versions! Click here to go directly to their Blessing Hands jewelry page. (For more on the Salute itself, see my page The Jewish Origin of the Vulcan Salute.)
Live long and prosper!
Links to more Jewish Star Trek sites
List of Jewish science fiction and fantasy books