The Most Human: Rec­on­cil­ing With My Father Leonard Nimoy

  • Review
By – June 3, 2024

Star Treks Mr. Spock is the epit­o­me of the oth­er”: he is con­stant­ly caught between the worlds of Human and Vul­can. Yet this char­ac­ter was beloved from the start. Audi­ences appre­ci­at­ed his inter­nal strug­gle between log­ic and emo­tion, between soli­tude and loy­al­ty. He appealed to so many peo­ple, espe­cial­ly the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, who saw them­selves in his oth­er­ness” and in the Vul­can salute that has its ori­gins in a bless­ing per­formed by the Kohanim. 

In his mem­oir, The Most Human, Adam Nimoy details his life as the son of one of the most rec­og­niz­able actors of our time. Nimoy, too, was caught between two worlds: there was the per­ceived per­fect fam­i­ly of acclaimed actor Leonard Nimoy, and there was Nimoy’s own real­i­ty of a con­flict­ed home life. While a sim­i­lar mem­oir might be adver­tised as a tell-all” about a pub­lic fig­ure, Nimoy takes care to be as fair as pos­si­ble to his father, the oth­er impor­tant peo­ple in his life, and him­self. He describes his child­hood dur­ing the era of Star Trek, his career shifts, his expe­ri­ence start­ing his own fam­i­ly, and his recov­ery from addiction.

Through­out The Most Human, Nimoy looks back on his rela­tion­ship with his father and how it affect­ed his life. A main theme of the book deals with break­ing inter­gen­er­a­tional cycles. Leonard Nimoy was the child of Ukrain­ian Jew­ish immi­grants who were ini­tial­ly unsup­port­ive of his aspi­ra­tion to be an actor; Nimoy spec­u­lates that his father’s ten­den­cy to be emo­tion­al­ly dis­tant and often detached from fam­i­ly life was due to Leonard’s own fraught upbring­ing. Nimoy recounts his strug­gle to con­nect with his father, a man he great­ly admired but could nev­er under­stand. Like Spock,” Nimoy writes, my father was often inscrutable — it was hard to know what he was think­ing or feel­ing.” When it came to rais­ing his own chil­dren, Nimoy made an effort to be com­mu­nica­tive, to be the father [he] nev­er had.” 

Nimoy dis­cuss­es how AA recov­ery taught him to bet­ter reg­u­late his emo­tion­al respons­es and to be thought­ful about his inter­per­son­al rela­tion­ships. Nav­i­gat­ing divorce, loss, and friend­ships on top of han­dling his com­plex rela­tion­ship with his father took care and the deter­mi­na­tion to make amends.” He open­ly explores his strug­gles with par­ent­ing, dat­ing, and car­ing for fam­i­ly mem­bers — all of which he does while pri­or­i­tiz­ing his recovery. 

In the end, Leonard and Adam Nimoy were able to rec­on­cile in their own ways: Nimoy learned to let go of resent­ment, and his father made an effort to sup­port his son dur­ing a dif­fi­cult and emo­tion­al time. Fea­tur­ing Jew­ish themes and bib­li­cal allu­sions to the Akedah (Bind­ing of Isaac) and Jon­ah and the Whale, The Most Human describes the ever-chang­ing nature of par­ent-child rela­tion­ships — both in and out of the spot­light. The book reminds us that our rela­tion­ships are always going to be com­pli­cat­ed, but that does not negate their sig­nif­i­cance in our lives. It reminds us that, though we might strug­gle to admit it, our par­ents are just as human as we are. 

Isado­ra Kianovsky (she/​her) is the Devel­op­ment Asso­ciate at the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and has loved Jew­ish books since she was about eight years old. She grad­u­at­ed from Smith Col­lege in 2023 with a B.A. in Jew­ish Stud­ies and a minor in His­to­ry. Pri­or to work­ing at JBC, she interned at the Hadas­sah-Bran­deis Insti­tute, the Jew­ish Wom­en’s Archive, and also stud­ied abroad a few times to learn about dif­fer­ent aspects of Jew­ish cul­ture and his­to­ry! Out­side of work, she loves to write and spend time with her loved ones.

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