Although most people remember Leonard Nimoy for either blue shirts and pointy ears or Rod Serlingesque commentary before documentaries regarding the paranormal, the man's first love was photography. In fact, it is also his latest. The photography bug sank its teeth into Nimoy while he was still in his teens, long before acting reared its head.
"A neighborhood friend showed me that for a few cents, you could go to a local camera store, buy chemicals and develop your own film, and make your own prints," he says. "The whole idea of creating an object like that... fascinated me. I've been doing it ever since."
Nimoy's first book of photography, Shekhina, is steeped in Judaic mysticism. The first seeds of this idea occurred to him at age 8 in the midst of the benediction at a synagogue. Captivated by the theatricality and mysticism, he wondered at the hand gesture and the covering of eyes.
Leonard Nimoy discusses his book, Shekhina
David Posnack Jewish Community Center, 5850 Pine Island Rd., Davie
7:30 p.m. Sunday, October 27; part of the center's Jewish Book Month. Tickets cost $25, and due to the nature of the photographs, no one younger than 18 will be admitted. Call 954-763-6701.
"Later the introduction of the hand gesture into Star Trek as a Vulcan greeting... led me into a conversation with a rabbi about that whole event, about the hand gesture and the eyes covered," Nimoy explains. "And I knew then that the hand gesture was the shape of... the first letter in the word Shekhina, which in Hebrew is the feminine version of the almighty."
That started Nimoy down a long road, his own personal episode of In Search Of... For seven years, he read up on aspects of feminism and goddesses and finally came up with his plan.
"I've always had this long-time interest in photography, and I began to explore the idea of doing a photographic essay on the feminine aspect of God," he says. "There are aspects of various religions that include 'goddess.' It raises the question of monotheism in Judaism -- whether or not Judaism is a monotheistic religion, which I do believe it is. But there is a duality in the character of God -- there is a masculine version and a feminine version."
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So Nimoy was all set, with a lofty concept for a photographic essay and years of experience to help him pull it off. But if you're going to shoot pictures to describe the feminine aspect of God, you'd best pick the right women for the job.
"The first model that is in this book came to me through my wife, who was taking an art class," Nimoy recalls. "I was discussing the idea with my wife, and she brought the first model from that class." Of course, a lucky hit like that is not always the case. "It's a process of networking and going to agencies in some cases and going to art schools where they do use models and exploring to see who is available."
With the book now out in stores, Nimoy arrives in Davie as part of his book tour. He's currently looking forward to his many stops and his continued experiments in photography will probably herald his next accomplishment. For now, acting is in the past.
"I've enjoyed the idea of being able to do this book, to produce an object like this," he says. "Actors don't produce an object. Actors produce something else that you can see and hear but never hold in your hands. So for me, to be able to produce an object has always been important."