Tag Archives: Mission: Impossible

Jew of the Week: Lalo Schifrin

Lalo Schifrin

Lalo Schifrin

Boris Claudio Schifrin (b. 1932) was born in Argentina. His father was a professional violinist and concertmaster, and introduced his son to music at a very young age. Schifrin grew up studying under the tutelage of several great composers and conductors. He composed his first piece, inspired by a passage in the Torah, at the age of 15 for his local synagogue. Although he briefly studied law, Schifrin pursued his passion in music and went on to study at the Paris Conservatory. He returned home to start his own jazz orchestra that was soon featured weekly on TV in Buenos Aires. In 1958, Schifrin was offered a job in New York and made the big move. Several years later, MGM offered him the chance to work on a film score. He won his first Emmy Award for Best TV Theme soon after. Schifrin went on to write theme songs and scores for over 160 films and television series, including Dirty Harry, theĀ Rush Hour trilogy, and Planet of the Apes. His score for The Exorcist was so frightening that the director had to scrap it from the film. Undoubtedly, the most famous of his songs is the theme from Mission: Impossible, now considered among the greatest theme songs of all time, and the most widely recognized around the world. It has been popular for nearly 5 decades since Schifrin first composed it in 1966. A U2 remake in 1996 sold 500,000 copies and reached #7 on the Billboard 100. Besides TV and film, Schifrin produced more than 50 musical albums, and composed over 60 orchestral works. For his work, he has been nominated for 6 Oscars and 21 Grammys, of which he has won 4. Despite being an octogenarian, he is still working on film scores and runs his own label, Aleph Records. Schifrin also has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Words of the Week

… the reason imagination is more important than knowledge is because imagination turns out to be the vehicle by which we increase knowledge. And so, if you don’t have imagination, you’re not going to get more knowledgeable.
– Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr.

Jew of the Week: Leonard Nimoy

The World’s Most Popular Alien

Nimoy Demonstrating the Kohanic Blessing Sign/Vulcan Salute

Nimoy Demonstrating the Kohanic Blessing Sign/Vulcan Salute

Leonard Simon Nimoy (1931-2015) was born in Boston to Orthodox Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants. He began performing in the Yiddish theatre when he was eight years old, and was encouraged to pursue a career in acting by his grandfather, against his parents’ wishes. He got his first role at 17, acting in a play about a Jewish family’s struggles during the Great Depression. Following this, he studied at Boston College, and made a living by selling vacuums, working in an ice cream shop, and at the National Yiddish Book Center. He then served for a year and a half in the US Army Reserve and earned the rank of sergeant. Nimoy continued to pursue his passion, though with very little success. He played tiny roles in over fifty movies, and had to deliver newspapers and drive a taxi at the same time just to get by. Finally, Nimoy got his big break when he was cast as Spock in Star Trek, which premiered in 1966. Spock quickly became one of “the most popular alien characters ever portrayed on television”. He played the TV role until 1969, for which he received three Emmy nominations. Nimoy improvised the famous Vulcan salute from his experiences at the synagogue as a child, where he watched the Kohanim bless the congregation. Nimoy adopted the Kohanic hand gesture, and adapted the Hebrew wording of the blessing to the Vulcan “live long and prosper”. He also invented the famous “nerve pinch” (to make a person unconscious), which has been both spoofed and adopted countless times in literature, television, and film. Nimoy played Spock again in eight Star Trek movies, including the most recent in 2013, and he directed two of them himself. Aside from this, Nimoy played in the original Mission: Impossible TV series (from which the Tom Cruise films were adapted), as well as many other movies and TV roles, together with a number of highly acclaimed stage performances (including Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof). Nimoy was also a photographer, producer, pilot, poet, writer (publishing two autobiographies), and musician, releasing five albums! All in all, Nimoy starred in 53 films, appeared in over 45 TV shows, 5 video games, and 3 music videos. Throughout his life, he was very active in the Jewish community, voicing a documentary about Hasidic Jews, leading a project to record Yiddish children’s stories, and preserving the Yiddish language, as well as dedicating much of his time to Holocaust remembrance. Nimoy passed away last week, aged 83. His former co-star George Takei said of him: “The word extraordinary is often overused, but I think it’s really appropriate for Leonard. He was an extraordinarily talented man, but he was also a very decent human being.”

Purim Begins Tonight!

Words of the Week

“Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.”
“When you let me take, I’m grateful. When you let me give, I’m blessed.”
“The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have.”
– Leonard Nimoy