Hiding behind his camera at every social situation, Jesse Solomon wanted nothing more than to be invisible. Then, one day…. Lights, camera, addiction! This is the slogan for the Beit T’Shuvah Film Department and no string of words has ever represented its creator more. From resident, to copyright intern at Creative Matters, to Film Department Coordinator, to Communications Coordinator, Jesse has made a serious name for himself throughout these hallowed halls. Struggling with drug abuse (and an acceptance of compliments that led to his initial denial of this spotlight), Jesse has made many proud by changing his life since entering the doors of 8831 Venice Boulevard in March of 2019.

Panic attacks, anxiety, and depression debilitated Jesse for most of his life. This led to a dependence on any drug he could get his hands on. By the time he was in high school, a consistent use of substances such as cannabis, crack, acid, coke, and prescription pills took over his life in an unimaginable fashion. “I truly thought I was the problem and the drugs were helping heal me,” Jesse said. Thoughts of suicide and self-harm crossed his mind more times than he could count, and the substances he used to numb these feelings only exasperated those thoughts. Sobriety wasn’t even on his radar.

Jesse recalls a time in high school, when he was allowed anywhere on campus under the guise of filming a satirical news show for his class. He went to the roof of the office building the school occupied and stood on the ledge. Watching his tears fall more than 8 stories to the ground, he decided he was going to jump, before suddenly thinking of a joke for his show.  Humor was the only thing stopping him from acting on the constant thoughts of suicide that occupied a rent-free area of his mind for years. His need to entertain others was the one and only lifeline he could grasp. Unfortunately, this desire was weakening with every laugh.

Thanks to his tumultuous relationship with his father, who has been sober for 30 years, living in recovery seemed like a bad joke to him. Jesse listened to audiobooks of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, just to better insult the ideas held within. His teenage angst even led him to snort lines of cocaine off of it and to rip the pages out for joint paper. He blamed this life saving text for so many of the issues his father created for his family. Until one day, he shed his prejudice and actually listened to what the book was trying to say.

For the better part of a decade, Jesse was unable to hold a job or stay in school. To him “higher education” had a much different meaning than it does for most of us. After dropping out of “more schools than he attended,” as he says, Jesse moved out of his childhood home and stayed with an old friend. In no time at all, Jesse burnt this final bridge faster than he could stress smoke an American Spirit. Panic attacks and addiction plagued the life of this intelligent and talented human, leading to his rock bottom of facing homelessness. Something needed to change in his life, and it had to be something massive. He reached out to family members who had similar experiences, and discovered Beit T’Shuvah. Checking in about a year before the pandemic hit, he has made a true change for himself in this world he once believed a joke.

Nowadays at BTS, if a video or some form of writing is involved, so is Jesse. With the help of close friend and board member, Adam Nimoy, Jesse created and runs the Film Department. Recently, he’s been promoted to Communications Coordinator, which comes with a whole new set of responsibilities and challenges (such as pleading with me to write a spotlight about anyone other than him). Without Jesse and fellow staff member, Max Hahn, there wouldn’t be any form of virtual services for community members to tune into from the safety of their home, amidst a worldwide pandemic. Even movie nights, comedy shows, and special events would be without visual media to present. Jesse puts hard work, determination, and an ironic level of spiteful care into everything he lays his hands on.

Considering art to be his higher power, Jesse shares this not only through his filmmaking, and the multiple bands he plays in, but also leading residents of Beit T’Shuvah down their own enlightened paths of artistic wonder. With compassion, drive, and the grizzled laugh of a man who is wise beyond his years, our annoyingly lovable Mr. Solomon grants those in recovery an infinite number of chances toward recovering their passions—commonly stating to each one, “If you have a story to tell, that can help others, and you don’t tell it…you’re doing a disservice to the world.”

Spotlight on Jesse Solomon by Steven C.

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