Leonard Nimoy was the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants living in Boston. His parents and grandparents had moved to Boston's West End where the three generations lived together in "a kosher home". With his grandparents he only spoke Yiddish. The West End was a place with about 60% Italians and 30% Jewish, a place which Nimoy described as "a very interesting neighbourhood", a "village within the city" where "Italians spoke Yiddish and the Jewish spoke Italian". Nimoy experienced what a "crossover relationship" was, his friends were a mix of Jews and Italians living in the same building: "Second floor was Italian, third floor was Jewish". With a smile he said in an interview that you could tell who lived where by the the smell of the food (via).
The neighbourhood was "a very interesting and a healthy way to grow up because you learned about other people, other cultures. I feel very grateful that I had this kind of life as a child."
The Vulcan salute: "In his autobiography I Am Not Spock, Nimoy wrote that he based it on the Priestly Blessing performed by Jewish Kohanim with both hands, thumb to thumb in this same position, representing the Hebrew letter Shin (ש), which has three upward strokes similar to the position of the thumb and fingers in the salute. The letter Shin here stands for El Shaddai, meaning "Almighty (God)", as well as for Shekinah and Shalom. Nimoy wrote that when he was a child, his grandfather took him to an Orthodox synagogue, where he saw the blessing performed and was impressed by it" (literally via).
When asked about aspects of the Spock character that were Jewish he said:
"Spock is an alien wherever he is because he is not Vulcan and he is not human, he is half and half. He is a half-breed, what we called a half-breed, a mix breed. Vulcan father, human mother. So he is not totally at home in the Vulcan culture, not totally accepted in the Vulcan culture because he is not totally Vulcan, certainly not totally accepted in the human culture because he is part Vulcan. And that alienation was something I had learned in Boston. I knew what it meant to be a member of a minority and in some cases an outcast minority. So I understood that. I understood that aspect of the character and it was helpful when playing it."
::: Leonard Nimoy sings:
The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins: WATCH/LISTEN
photographs via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via
information via an interview in Yiddish and English, October 2013