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Understanding Cemetery Symbols: What’s Spock doing in a Historic Graveyard? #cemetery #history #GraveHour

Understanding Cemetery Symbols by Tui Snider

[The following is an adapted excerpt from my book, Understanding Cemetery Symbols. I hope you enjoy it! Also, full disclosure: that’s an Amazon affiliate link. If you buy my book after clicking it, I make a few pennies at no additional cost to you.]

Live long and prosper?

If you are a Star Trek fan, you may be surprised to see a pair of hands, seemingly giving Commander Spock’s famous “Live long and prosper” gesture, engraved on a headstone.

As it happens, Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock in the famous TV show, was Jewish. As a child, he saw members of his church making this sign. Later, while developing his portrayal of Spock,  Nimoy proposed using this unique gesture for the famous Vulcan character.


(c) Tui Snider - "Spock Hands" aka "Cohen Hands"
(c) Tui Snider – “Spock Hands” aka “Cohen Hands”

Cohen Hands a.k.a. Hands of Kohanim

When you see “Spock hands” on a tomb, you are actually looking at “Cohen hands,” which may also be referred to as the “Hands of Kohanim.” This hand gesture signifies that the deceased is a Jewish person who descended from the priestly Tribe of Cohen.

Incidentally, Cohen descendants are forbidden from attending funerals, except in the case of their relatives and closest friends.

Want to learn more about cemetery symbols?

BLOG POSTS: Click here to read a whole bunch more blog posts about historic graveyards and cemetery symbols. I’m constantly adding new content here!

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Tui Snider
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One Comment

  1. I love this post! Such delightfully obscure information. Would it be impolite of me thank you for digging it up? I hope not!
    I almost met Leonard Nimoy at an Israel Day anniversary celebration many years ago. I decided to not intrude because he was swamped by people.

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