WIKIPEDIA, THAT GREAT INFALLIBLE RESERVOIR OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE, lists Boris Volynov, a Soyuz astronaut, as being the first Jew in space, having broken Earth’s surly bonds in 1969.
Judith Resnick is listed as the first American Jewish astronaut. She flew on the 12th Space Shuttle mission in 1984 (she later died in the Challenger accident.)
Alas, neither of these “facts” are true. As much as I want to believe everything I read on the Internet, the truth is that the first Jew went into space in 1966.
Sure, he wasn’t entirely human. He had pointy ears, could mind meld and only got horny every seven years. And, okay, his spaceship was a Hollywood set made of cardboard.
But none of that mattered — to millions of fans and not just a few NASA scientists over the past 50 years, Leonard Nimoy’s Spock not only went where no one had gone before, but he took us along for the ride.
Captain Kirk got the green girls. Bones was just a doctor, dammit. And Scotty pretty much just bitched all the time (seriously, Worst Employee Ever.)
But Spock was thoughtful, rational. He was inquisitive — more Pinocchio than real boy, yet always trying to find that inner balance.
It was that struggle we related to. For of all the crew members on all the incarnations of the USS Starship Enterprise, Spock was the one we loved. He’s who we wanted to be.
Spock was a mutt, a blend of two species and two personalities. Yet for all his conflicts and attempts to tamp down emotions, his moral code was beyond reproach — “the good of the many outweigh the good of the few, or the one.” His courage was unquestionable (who else would willingly irradiate himself) and his friendship undeniable.
“Of my friend, I can only say this,” Kirk says about a presumed dead Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. “Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.”
Kirk didn’t need a conscience; he had Spock. Bones didn’t need to keep his cool; he had Spock.
And we didn’t need to go to outer space to appreciate its wonder and promise; we had Spock.
We will always have Spock.