Tag Archives: Judaism

Portrait of a Character – Linda Orenstein Shapiro

Portrait of a Character – Linda Orenstein Shapiro

Origins

As I wrote The Light, I wanted Ethan Shapiro to contact his mother as a part of discussing his Aunt Rachel’s death. Rachel is also Linda’s aunt. Linda is named after two of my aunts.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Linda Orenstein Shapiro
Valerie Harper as Linda Orenstein Shapiro

Linda is played by actress Valerie Harper. I like the idea of a semi-wisecracking woman in this role. She is a fairly clichéd role, so to my mind that makes some sense.

Funny, though, the actress is actually not Jewish. But I still see her in the role.

Personality

A bit of a worrier, and deeply religious, Linda is seen only twice. Once is in the context of Rachel’s death. The other time is in a fevered coma dream during Entanglements.  Ethan asks if he will ever fall in love. Linda responds, “I think that will happen. Just be patient, Ethan. And remember – she might not look like what you think she should. But that doesn’t matter. Look with your heart, and see with your soul.”

Relationships

Linda’s only known relationship is with Ethan’s father, who I don’t believe I have ever actually named.

Mirror Universe

It is possible that Linda exists in the Mirror Universe.

Portrait of a Character – Linda Orenstein Shapiro
Valerie Harper as Mirror Linda (image is provided for educational purposes)

Ethan (at least, the Ethan who is her son) does not. But that does not preclude her own existence there.

Women in the Mirror Universe need to remain attractive longer (at least, as I write them), so she would possibly have surgery or at least be a serious user of makeup.

Quote

“It’s a shonda, so few Jews on board. Andrew; you’ll call your mother for Chanukah, right?”

Upshot

I particularly loved bringing Linda back for another round, to comfort a comatose Ethan and give him some hope for the future. In a way, much like Ian does for Lili, Linda predicts the future for Ethan, and shows him that the path might be somewhat crooked, but it will all work out in the end.

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Review – Faith

Review – Faith

Faith is an exceedingly personal thing, and not just for us real people. It is for characters, as well.

Background

This story was written in response to a week-long series of seven prompts. I had wanted to explore Declan and his later life and his conversion to Judaism, and then when the first prompt was ‘in the beginning’, the telling became easier and almost imperative.

I firmly believe that ‘Faith of the Heart’ means all faiths (even questioning and the absence of same), and also all hearts. This story brings those two ideas together.

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Later Days | Faith
Later Days

Declan Reed‘s conversion to Judaism, and his relationship with Rebecca Shapiro, are explored in depth. Along the way, I also touched on his relationship with Norri Digiorno, Joss Beckett and Jia Sulu, Neil Digiorno-Madden and Ines Ramirez, Marie Patrice Beckett, and Tommy Digiorno-Madden.

Declan asks for advice, he learns Hebrew, and he eventually participates in the rituals of conversion. He also spends time with the family and with Rebecca, who shows that she is just as ready, willing, and able to commit as he is. He even contacts his nasty ex-wife, Louise Schiller to tell her that he’s remarrying. A glimpse at Louise reveals a selfish, self-centered individual. In many ways, Louise is Pamela Hudson but without a heart. She ends up being very hard to take.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I like how the rather disparate prompts were able to come together into a whole. I got to know a bit more about Louise Schiller, too, who I had only shown as a child before, in Saturn Rise. The story gave me the opportunity to see her more clearly, too.

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Portrait of a Character – Rebecca Shapiro

Portrait of a Character – Rebecca Shapiro

Origins

Because I had wanted to contradict canon and give Malcolm Reed a family and long-term descendants, Malcolm’s son, Declan, would need a wife or at least a girlfriend or even a baby mama.

Portrait of a Character – Rebecca Shapiro
Actress, Rachel Weisz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portrayal

Rebecca is played by actress Rachel Weisz. I wanted a Jewish actress for this role, as Rebecca is somewhat traditional and is Karin and Ethan‘s younger daughter. Furthermore, I wanted Declan’s decision to convert to her faith to be believable. I also like this actress; I think she’s smart, and her choices are interesting ones.

Personality

Caring and up for anything, Rebecca is the true companion that Declan has been waiting for his entire life. His first marriage was horrific, as he explains in Faith. Rebecca is the person who heals him. In gratitude, although she never asks him to, he embraces her faith and converts to Judaism.

Relationships

Declan Reed

Rebecca’s only relationship is with Declan, who is about twelve years her senior. They meet at her elder sister, Alia’s, Bat Mitzvah, which is partly shown in The Rite and referred to in Fortune. At that point, he is a young man; it’s before he marries his first wife, Louise Schiller.

After the last death in the preceding generation (Norri), Declan goes to Europe, partly to return to Oxford, where he is an artist in residence. He takes a side trip to Giverny to look at and paint Monet‘s water lilies. While there, he sees Rebecca and they become reacquainted.

Mirror Universe

It’s impossible for Rebecca to exist in the Mirror Universe, as Ethan does not.

Quote

“There is a saying in Judaism, let’s see if I can get it right. It, um, it’s that when Moses brought down the law from Mount Sinai, all of the Jews were there. Even the dead. Even the unborn. Even the completely unknown and unfathomable, like Vulcan converts, and Jews from the Mirror Universe, all stretching, in a chain, through all of time. And you know something? I saw you there.”

Upshot

I really liked the idea of redeeming Declan in the same way that Lili redeems Malcolm, albeit sooner. I particularly enjoyed creating yet another reason why our universe and the Mirror are different – with no Ethan Shapiro on the other side of the pond, there is no Rebecca and, as a result, their deep future descendants don’t exist, including Eleanor and Richard Daniels. Rebecca is the linchpin of all of that.

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Portrait of a Character – Leah Benson

Portrait of a Character – Leah Benson

Origins

In The Light, I needed a Rabbi character. Because women have fairly recently been admitted to the Rabbinate in all Jewish sects except for Orthodox (and it is highly doubtful that even the most competent Orthodox Jew would go into space during the Star Trek: Enterprise era), I decided on a female Rabbi.

Portrayal

I decided I wanted a Jewish actress and so I selected Mayim Bialik. This actress is of course known not only for her child star work, but also for her more recent work on The Big Bang Theory.

Portrait of a Character – Leah Benson
Rabbi Leah Benson

I also felt that Starfleet would select someone relatively young to fulfill this role, as they would be hoping for someone to stick around for a while and that person would also need to be someone not easily shocked by things like asking to pray over a dying alien or even something as incredible as a Xindi Reptilian potentially asking to convert to Judaism.

Personality

Friendly, approachable and consoling, Rabbi Benson is not only an expert on Judaism, she’s also something of a counselor. For Ethan Shapiro, Andrew Miller, Josh Rosen and Karin Bernstein, the Rabbi may stand in as a parent when difficult decisions need to be made. She is someone they can turn to if they are grieving, or unsure of things, thereby allowing Captain Archer and Doctor Phlox more breathing room.

Relationships

Diana Jones

In Bread, it’s revealed that they married (thereby predicting that gay marriage will be legal in the United Federation of Planets). Their long-term, loving relationship is sorely tested when Diana becomes gravely ill.

Mirror Universe

Leah’s only known relationship in the Mirror Universe is with Leonora Digiorno. As ruthless as anyone else in the mirror, Leah is not a woman of God. Instead, she is a pilot, and is meant to be somewhat similar to Melissa Madden, who the Mirror Norri never meets.

Portrait of a Character – Leah Benson
Mirror Leah

The image is brief but indelible, in Fortune, when Leah murders Norri for the most selfish and trivial of reasons. Nasty, brutal and efficient, Leah steals the meager possessions she can carry and leaves Norri’s broken body without looking back.

Quote

“When Starfleet was established, this question was decided, as Talmudic scholars determined that there could be occasions when Kaddish would have to be said but a Jew would be, perhaps alone, or with no means of communicating with other Jews. So, you can pray with a quorum, a minyan partly composed of Jews who are linked via communications – such as we are linked right now. Or you can enlist the help of non-Jewish friends for this specific purpose. Either way will work.”

Upshot

Leah is about as different as anyone can be when you compare her Prime and Mirror Universe counterparts. I wanted her to be that way, whereas Doug and Jay are, for example, a lot closer. Leah represents just how different the two sides of the coin truly can be, and how a few changes in someone’s life can turn them from a gentle, caring person to a ruthless, cold-blooded monster.