By COLlive reporter
Leonard Simon Nimoy, who led a long career in American pop culture and gave voice to Jewish and Yiddish productions over the years, passed away on Friday at the age of 83.
The actor, a resident of Los Angeles, wrote on Twitter last month that he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, despite quitting smoking 30 years ago, Fox News reported.
Having grown up in a traditional Jewish home and spent time in an Orthodox synagogue in Boston, MA, he vividly remembered the time when the Kohanim would spread out their hands and fingers over the congregation.
In the mid-1960s, he played the half-Vulcan half-human character on the Star Trek series on television, he remembered the gesture he saw while he peeked from under his father’s tallis and used it to create the Vulcan greeting salute.
On an recorded appearance on the Chabad “To Life” Telethon, the annual televised fundraiser for Chabad of California, Nimoy at first said it would be “presumptuous of me to make the priestly sign out of character.”
His parents were Jewish immigrants from a small town in Ukraine and he spoke fluent Yiddish. Although he counted many Italian-Americans as his friends in the neighborhood he grew up in, Nimoy said he also felt the sting of anti-Semitism growing up.
One of the first characters he played was a boy in a Jewish family in a local production of “Awake and Sing.” He went on to beome a film director, poet, singer and photographer. He played Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir‘s husband in the TV drama “A Woman Called Golda.”
In 1984, Nimoy brought his voice to the award-winning animated film “Lights, The Miracle of Chanukah,” at a time when there were few video productions available for Jewish children. It was directed and written by Yehuda Wurtzel with Sara Wurtzel.
When it was rereleased as a DVD in 2005, Lights was met with the same enthusiasm. “I’ve loved this for years and thrilled it is now on dvd to share with the next generation. Wish there were more fun films like this about other holidays!” wrote Jellicle in a review on Amazon.com.
VIDEO: Lights, The Miracle of Chanukah
In the 80’s, Nimoy joined a radiodrama production to bring the mysterious story of the Golem of Prague to life. Created by Rabbi Chaim Clorfene and Lubavitcher physician and teacher Simcha Gottlieb, it thrilled listeners young and old.
Recorded in Israel, New York, and Hollywood, Nimoy brought his star power to the production which included stunning sound effects and music, bringing to life the times of the Golem’s creator, Rabbi Yehudah Loew, known as the Maharal.
TRAILER: The Mysterious Golem of Prague
AUDIO: The Mysterious Golem of Prague