Bouncing Back – and Forward
From Immigrant Household to Cambridge Fellowship
Reif, Stefan C.
Awarded an OBE in the 2020 October Queen’s Birthday Honours List
Alternately gritty, funny, and deeply touching, but always honest and insightful, this is a revealing account of a life, with yet more to give, dedicated triumphantly to the highest standards of scholarly achievement, not least in one of the world’s great Universities. Read it again – and again!
Julius Lipner, Professor Emeritus of Hinduism and the Comparative Study of Religion, University of Cambridge
An engaging, informative, no holds barred, account of a precociously-brilliant Edinburgh lad and the barriers he surmounted to become a world-renowned Jewish studies scholar. A significant contribution to Anglo-Jewish social history.
Rabbi Dr Jeffrey M. Cohen
An affectionate telling of his family story, his early years in Edinburgh, his first academic appointment in Glasgow against the background of their Jewish communities. An important memoir of Jewish life in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Kenneth Collins, author of The Jewish Experience in Scotland
This is the tale of how a boy of working-class, immigrant Jewish parents in Edinburgh became a Cambridge scholar of international repute.
Stefan Reif traces the numerous obstacles encountered as he struggled to make a life that released him from poverty and anonymity but maintained the best of Ashkenazi Judaism. We follow his adventures as a pupil subjected to the rigours of a Scottish Presbyterian education, as well as the demands of traditional Jewish learning. The account describes London, Glasgow and Philadelphia before concentrating on Cambridge and describing how difficult it was for a scholar who had degrees from London to win academic recognition.
This is not only the personal tale of how a poor boy made good that will touch the hearts of many who have struggled to achieve success or seen others who have failed to do so. It is also a readable, informative and moving account of Jewish life in immigrant Edinburgh, of the teachers and politics of Jews’ College, London, in the 1960s, and of the intricacies of Cambridge academia in the final third of the twentieth century.
It contains fresh information, controversial revelations and frank assessments of individuals and institutions.
Paperback 392 pages 28 black and white illustrations