A hero of my childhood has died. Leonard Nemoy, better known as Mr. Spock on Star Trek, is dead. I have spent countless hours watching the series (re-runs, I’m much too young), the movie, I have read every Star Trek novel I could get my hands on and played Spock in countless hours of make-believe stories. Now he is dead. It feels like part of my childhood has ended.
Star Trek may not be Jewish, but it represents many Jewish values. Spock, like every person aboard the Enterprise, was honest, trustworthy and reliable, behaving with intelligence, sensibility and integrity. If I had to chose one word, I would say he was a real mentch. Spock tried to maximize his abilities and to become more than he was. He never stopped learning. But instead of being focused only on his own gain and advancement, he also selflessly gave everything for the community when needed. In the words of Spock himself: "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few".
Spock has values that he takes pride in and defends. But instead of isolating himself, he reaches out to other cultures and tries to understand them. The mission of the Enterprise is to "seek out new life and new civilizations". With the understanding that we might not love everything about a different culture, nor do we need to love it, but we should normally respect it. The crew of the Enterprise often treads the fine line between respect for others and standing for their own values. Because if we tolerate everything, our values become arbitrary. But if we cannot accept the rights of others to lead their lives according to their values, we become tyrants. And sometimes we might even need to rethink our values in light of the new things we have learned.
Star Trek, with Spock as one of its central and most well-known figures, shows us a future we would be proud to have. A time to look forward to, a united earth with no wars. Where people work together with respect and integrity. Where there is tolerance, but also a grounding in values. Where the pursuit of knowledge is one of the greatest goals. Maybe even a time that has messianic traits.
The world has lost a symbol. But, with the words of Dr. McCoy when Spock dies in "The Wrath of Khan": " He’s really not dead, as long as we remember him". And we will.
Goodbye Mr. Spock. We will miss you.