By Jesse Solomon
Popularity is one of life’s greatest double-edged swords. Most of us strive for it our whole lives without ever even getting a glimpse of it. Some of us make it to the promised land and find that it is not everything they had dreamt of. For those who make it, they often leave their loved ones in the fallout of their fame. It is hard for anyone to say the name “Adam Nimoy” without immediately sparking the nostalgia associated with his father’s work. Nimoy is not a very popular last name. In most people’s minds, they can only think of one man–Spock. For his son, Adam, this came with many rewards and challenges. The rewards included never having to wait for a table at a restaurant and the challenges included constantly living in the shadow of his father. “It wasn’t cool when we were in conflict. I’d be like, ‘enough with Spock. I’m sick of Spock. I’m done with Spock,’” Adam says.
As a child, seeing his parent be showered with affection and having to sit on the sidelines and watch was confusing. “I was very proud of my dad. I love Star Trek. It’s freaking awesome. On the other hand, I had a lot of trouble with him because we were very generationally different,” Adam says. “He grew up in the Depression as the son of Russian immigrants and his parents were very poor. I didn’t have to do that. At that time, I was reading detective comics, listening to rock’n’roll, and watching 60s television.”
When he was finally old enough to carve his own path, Adam decided to become a lawyer. “After passing the bar exam, I went with some of my friends to Costa Del Sol in Spain. We ate paella, drank sangria. We brought the killer Columbian weed with us and there were all these naked women on the beach,” Adam says. “I thought to myself, ‘it doesn’t get any better than this.’” Adam would spend decades chasing this feeling by smoking weed every night and day. His body quickly became dependant on the substance to sleep, eat, and function.
After avoiding his shadow for so many years, Adam realized how unhappy it was making him. “I worked very hard to create my own identity,” he says. “That’s why I went to law school… but after seven years of practicing law, all I wanted to do was be a director like my dad.” Adam spent the next ten years of his life touring film sets as a very successful television director. At this point, his drug use had become rampant and he knew something had to change. Directly following his divorce, Adam decided to get clean and start living in recovery. That’s when he found Beit T’Shuvah.
Although never a resident here, his father would take him to Friday night services where Adam quickly became enamored with the wild style Beit T’Shuvah. “Those services are like part revival meeting, part AA meeting, part rock’n’roll show, part circus act,” he says. He knew right away that this was the place he needed to be for his own recovery’s sake. After a while, he became very close with Rabbi Mark and Harriett and knew that he had to somehow get more involved in the community. This prompted him to take a seat on the Beit T’Shuvah board, where he still sits today.
For years Adam searched for a way to get even more immersed in the community, but could not find it. That is, until Ethan J. and myself, Jesse Solomon, decided to create a film department at Beit T’Shuvah.
In our first meeting, Adam was flabbergasted that this idea had not come to him sooner. He would go on to help mentor, teach, and aid the residents in telling their stories through the wonderfully captivating format of film. “I have just enough experience, having directed ten years of T.V., to fool the residents into believing I know what the fuck I am talking about,” he laughs.
The residents adore him, and he brings an undeniable value and expertise to every class. “It is really therapeutic for people to know that they have something to say. It is unique, and we want to hear it…and that is really the mission of the film department,” Adam says. I could not have said it better myself…which concerns me. As the only staff member of the film department, I should be the best at this by now? Is there more I could do to make this department more successful? Am I currently living in Adam’s shadow?
Thankfully, when I go down this road of questioning myself, Adam is always there to snap me out of it. He is great at reminding me that not only is building a department from scratch a difficult thing, but the notion of living in someone else’s shadow is ludicrous. He has more than triumphed over this negative belief and now has the tools to teach me to be better. In reality, he was always his own man—Leonard Nimoy’s son. As am I my own man—Adam Nimoy’s friend. One cannot live in the shadow of anything if they shine brightly themselves.