Star Trek night at Temple israel

August 14, 2016

What’s Happening

Saturday, August 20, 7:30 pm

Culturally, what has happened in 50 years? Fifty years ago, people were listening to the Beatles, and still do, but the Beatles no longer perform. F Troop no longer mans its outpost in TV-country, and McHale’s Navy no longer patrols the South Pacific. But a few survivors continue to delight audiences, and none with greater optimism regarding the human future than Star Trek. Its original airing was August 20, 1966, exactly half a century ago.

What accounts for Star Trek’s staying power? In an era regarding aliens as Bug Eyed Monsters, Star Trek taught to regard the alien as another creature with whom to strive to develop good relations. With a Spock-delivered mind meld, it was possible to understand each other and enter into a fruitful partnership.

“Star Trek reflects so many Jewish themes,” Temple Israel’s Rabbi Michael Panitz says. “Moses teaches us to love the stranger. David tells us to seek peace and pursue it. Isaiah tells us to look forward to a day when nations will not lift up sword against nation. In the Star Trek universe, we need to approach the stranger in empathy, and be ready to go the extra parsec for the sake of peace. The entire earth is united in a single, peaceful society, and so we can reach out to the far quadrants of the galaxy.”

Temple Israel will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Man Trap, the first Star Trek episode aired, with a Star Trek night. The program is open to the community and is free, although voluntary donations to defray refreshment costs will be accepted at the door.

The evening will begin with Havdalah under the stars, and then continue with a Star Trek marathon on the large-screen television in Sandler Hall. Participants are encouraged to suggest which episodes reflect Jewish teachings, and clips from those themes will be shown. The evening will conclude with an airing of the most beloved of all Star Trek episodes, The City on the Edge of Forever, dealing with the struggle against Hitler and Nazism.

For those who prefer acting to sitting and watching, there will be an opportunity to act out scenes of an original Star Trek screenplay, originally written for this past Hannukah. The Enterprise is in mortal danger, its “dilithium” crystals denatured! But wait! There is a “dilithium” powered menorah on board. Will Scottie and Spock be able to restart the engines in time?

August 20 is two days past full moon, and during the evening, participants will be able to enjoy moonrise, scanning celestial neighbors through a telescope with spectacular views of the craters, lunar maria and rocky highlands. According to Rabbi Panitz, “The Heavens declare the glory of God.”

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