"jewish Themes In Star Trek" Rabbi Gershom Ebook On Cd For Sale
Boldly go where no rabbi has gone before!
Jewish Themes in Star Trek
by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom
(digital version on a data CD)
You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this well-researched and reader-friendly journey into Jewish themes, actors, writers, in-jokes and subtexts in the Star Trek Universe. Inspired by a class I taught at the Minneapolis Talmud Torah, the book explores such things as: The Jewish origin of the Vulcan salute; How Vulcan culture is based on rabbinical Judaism; "Who is a Jew" among Trek characters in episodes, movies and the novels; proof positive that the Ferengi are NOT based on the Jews -- and much more!
Rumors of this book have been around for five years -- that's the time my agent and I spent trying to find a publisher and being repeatedly told there is no market. What? With milllions of Jews and millions more Trek fans (and a lot of people who are both), they've got to be kidding! Of course, publishers are notorious for turning down good books -- The Wizard of Oz was rejected with, "We don't need any new fairy tales,"The first Harry Potter book was rejected numerous times, and Thoreau self-published Walden....
Be that as it may, this is finally available to you. I am get the ebook versionhere. I am offering this digital version in my store because I know times are hard right now,books are expensive and some people won't be able to afford the print versions. Others just Want It Now. This is the exact same PDF file used to printthe paper versions -- you just don't have to pay for printing and binding. (If you do prefer a physical book,thereis ahardcoveredition for $30and a Trade Paperback edition for $16.98-- go to my store The Happy Roosterand look under "Star Trek" to find thelistings for those.)
How do I view and print this ebook?
It comes as a PDF file on a plain data CD, plus you will get a JPG copy of the cover art and a cool wallpaper graphic for your desktop. You willneed Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the PDFfile -- you can get this for free on the adobe.com website.
Ordering more ebook titles? Additional ebooks SHIP FREE on the same CD if you pay in one payment. Ask for an invoice to be sure you get this discount!
International Shipping?Yes, I can ship the ebook version on a CD to anywhere in the world.
Note to and whomever else it concerns: I am the author and copyright holder of this work, andI have the right to sell it on as an ebook. I am the only person with that right -- this ebook does NOT include reseller rights.
Here is the complete author's preface plus the Table of Contents. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me. Live long and prosper!
Author’ Preface (re-formatted for easier reading online)
Why Jewish themes in Star Trek? Isn't Star Trek* supposed to be universal? Well, yes and no.Star Trek presents a multicultural model of the future -- a future that, I have always assumed, will include Jews. And indeed there have been some characters in the series named Kaplan, Kelowitz, and Ginsberg, who could certainly be Jewish. If so, they are probably secular or “cultural” Jews, whose Jewishness is a matter of ancestry, rather than a belief system. Religion, after all, was never a part of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future.
Still, the question remains: Does the Vulcan philosophy of IDIC -- Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations -- include room for a religious Jew like myself? This book is the result of my quest to find out.
The project started out simple enough: I would compile a list of possibly Jewish characters and references in the episodes. I would also look for references and dialogue that might be seen as having a “Jewish twist.” I began my research the lazy way, by posting requests in various Internet discussion groups. In reply, I received tons of emails supporting the project, but very few actual references – not even the ones I had already found!
Far from discouraging me, this only confirmed what I had suspected: I was going where no rabbi had gone before. If there were Jewish references in Star Trek, I would have to dig for them myself.
In addition to viewing all the episodes and movies, I tracked down and read every Star Trek novel published between 1970 and 1990 -- a delightful task that took me over three years. (My reason for the 1990 cut-off point is explained in Appendix C). I fell in love with the books, which provided so much more detail about the characters and alien cultures than the show itself. Television writers are severely limited by what can be shown on screen within the limits of a studio budget and the time frame of a one-hour production (really about 45 minutes with commercials). A novel, on the other hand, is hundreds of pages long, and is limited only by the author's imagination. Space aliens that would appear utterly ridiculous on TV can be quite believable on the written page. A novel also allows the reader to spend many hours immersed in the story.
During those three years, my recreational reading consisted almost entirely of Star Trek novels. Although current critiques of Star Trek tend to follow the lead of Paramount Studios and ignore the novels as apocryphal, I have unabashedly included them here. Maybe that's because I found so many Jewish references in the early novels. Or maybe it's because I'm a writer myself.
In addition to the novels, I also watched or read dozens of reviews, documentaries, biographies, articles, fanzines, blogs, websites, critical commentaries and academic works on the Star Trek universe. My book and video collection now takes up an entire wall and continues to grow.
Somewhere along the line, I “discovered” the 1973 Animated Series. Before doing this project, I had no idea those episodes even existed. What can I say? The Animated Series originally aired on the Sabbath, when religious Jews don't watch TV. Saturday morning cartoons just aren't part of my culture. The discovery of these 22 “lost” episodes cleared up a big mystery about the origins of certain “new” crewmembers in the early novels, such as three-legged Arex and felinoid M'ress.
What had begun as a simple list of characters soon evolved into a full-blown project, probably equivalent to writing a Ph.D. thesis. And yet, in spite of all the academic research involved, this remains a very personal book, written from my own perspective as a longtime fan. I do cite my sources where appropriate, but the conclusions are entirely mine. So are any bloopers that may lurk within its pages.
One of the best things about Star Trek is that it makes a wonderful mirror, allowing each of us to see ourselves reflected in it. Therefore, rather than try to interview certain cast and production crew members about how their own Jewishness might have affected the show, I simply allowed the material itself to speak to me as a Jew. Interestingly, the episodes that speak most eloquently are often the same ones that other Trekkers dismiss as hokey. I believe this is because my fellow fans are missing out on the Jewish subtexts.
In Appendix B you will find an essay called “The Torah of Star Trek,” which explains how I organized and interpreted the material. Fellow Jews with some Talmudic training will no doubt recognize (and perhaps smile at) my methodology. For the rest of my readers, I hope that this essay will serve to explain how Jews relate to source texts, how they are expanded to fill in details, and how the midrashic thought process might have influenced -- however unintentionally – the ongoing development of the Star Trek universe. Trek is, after all, the only TV series that developed a universe in this way.
This book was finished when several new Trek novels appeared with – big drum roll -- major Jewish characters! Although these stories were published outside the timeframe that I chose for my study of the novels, they represent a major breakthrough and deserve to be included. (See Appendix A.)
One list I resisted making was “Who is a Jew” among the Star Trek cast, writers, and production staff. Where I identify someone as Jewish, this is based on their own public statements. As for the rest, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to verify them all.
Like all books, this one had input from many people, some of whom I've never met. I especially want to thank Leonard Nimoy for making Spock so wonderfully Jewish; Diane Duane for inventing that great Jewish character in her novels, Harb Tanzer; Isaac Asimov (may he rest in peace) for influencing my writing style even though we are light-years apart in theology; the Minicon 30 science fiction convention (Minneapolis, 1995), where I presented my first “Jews in Trek” discussion; the Trek-cochavim (that's Hebrew for “Star Trek”) Internet group, where I lurked and listened; the Intellec and FidoNet Star Trek BBS groups, where I hotly participated during the 1980s; Gershon Lefkowitz and the FCI study group in the 1990s (even though Gershon absolutely hated my analysis of the Nazi episode); Alan Berger, friend and avid Trekker, who took me to conventions and helped support my work financially; Matthew Epstein, eccentric poet and longtime friend who has supported my work in many ways over the years; Andrew Nussbaum, for sending me several articles on Jews and the Ferengi; LaDene Morton, for her delightful email correspondence about how the Ishmael Trek novel is based on the Here Come the Brides show; Kate Gladstone, for alerting me to Saavik’s Yiddish line in Star Trek III (see page 197); Jim Baldwin, for his piece on “Nutmeggers” and the Ferengi, quoted in chapter 11; Jane Strauss, for many years of listening to me blather; the many, many creators of Memory-Alpha.org, the best Trek reference site on the Net; and Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore in Minneapolis -- for obvious reasons.
Last but not least, much behind-the-scenes credit goes to Caryl, my beloved wife of 29 years, who has viewed every episode countless times with me, put up with me vanishing into my writer’s cubbyhole for days on end, and happily shared my love of Star Trek.
Rabbi Yonassan Gershom
P.S. When I searched the NASA gallery for a cover image, I didn’t really look at the titles until I found the one I liked. Then I saw it was a photo of Nebula NGC1818 – double chai – could there be a better sign that the time is right for this book?
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