Space Jew: Is William Shatner Jewish?

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06: William Shatner visits FOX Business at FOX Studios on October 6, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

William Shatner became a cultural icon for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek, but off-screen, Shatner grew up as your typical Canadian Jewish guy.

Now, the 90 year-old actor is breaking new records. Heading to the edge of space on Wednesday, he made history becoming the oldest person to ever travel to space!

In the name of Jewish mothers everywhere, we’re shepping nachas!

What better opportunity to dive into Shatner’s Jewish roots.

Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike and Leonard Nimoy as Commander Spock (Mr. Spock) on the bridge of the USS Enterprise in the STAR TREK: The Original Series episode, “The Cage.” This is the pilot episode completed early 1965, but not broadcast until October 4, 1988. CBS Photo Archive/CBS via Getty Images

Shatner was born in Montreal, Canada

William Shatner was born on March 22, 1931, to Ann and Joseph Shatner.

He grew up in a Conservative Jewish household

Shatner raised in the very Jewish Cote Saint-Luc neighbourhood of Montreal.

Shatner doesn’t sound Jewish?

That’s because it isn’t. In his book, Shatner shares that his paternal grandfather, Wolf Schattner, anglicized the family name to “Shatner.”

All four of his grandparents were Jewish immigrants to Canada

They came fro Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine and Lithuania).

He’s more connected to Jewish culture than observance

Although his parents were religious, Shatner connects more to Jewish culture than religious practice, he shared in an interview.

“My father and mother had an observant religious life. They went to temple every Sabbath, prayed to God, and I was dragged along,” he said. “I’m not religious but I’m spiritual.”

He connects most with Jewish values.

“Giving to people. Being generous and charitable,” he said about the Jewish values he holds dear.

“Learning is an important aspect of being Jewish and connection with other Jewish people. There are so few, so it helps that everyone helps each other.”

He faced a “great deal” of antisemitism growing up 

“I was born in a city that was mostly Catholic. It was very difficult. I’m shaped by a lot of battles from six years old up until now,” she shared in the same interview.

He got the name “toughie” because he was always getting into fights with other kids at school. 

“Kids would all crowd around yelling ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’

He also experienced antisemitism in college and beyond

The university I went to had a quota. How I made it through the quota, I don’t know,” he said, referring to McGill University. “There was a limit to the number of Jewish kids who could go to that university, no matter how qualified they were.”

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