Roy Hoffman: Life Story

Born in 1963 in London, UK, I was brought up in a suburb (Kenton) with my brother Danny. We were brought up as orthodox Jews but were sent to state schools. This gave us the tools for relating to the outside world but left us with a feeling of conflict, a duality; living one way at home and a different way at school.

As a child, I had a strong interest in science and technology and benefited from the beginnings of the microcomputer revolution. It is hard to believe today but I was already 14 when I first used a computer and that was via a Teletype and a phone line. By the time I was 18, there were many computer whiz kids of 12 around with their home computers. This spurred me to learn about computers in my spare time so as not to be outsmarted by the whiz kids. Of course, for most of the whiz kids, computers were a passing phase and most lost interest by the age of 14. I went on to study Chemistry at University and because of my attraction to mathematics and computing went into physical chemistry for my PhD. I chose to move to the USA as the career prospects in my field were limited in the UK and secured a postdoc at one of the top NMR data processing laboratories.

It was in the USA it was brought home to me that a career is not everything. Having been brought up as a religious Jew, I felt it that there was very little Jewish spirituality near my new home in the USA. While I had resolved the career problems of the UK, I felt that something was sorely lacking in my life. So, against all odds, I applied for work in Israeli universities. Turning down a job offer in the US, I accepted a postdoc at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a third of the salary. The postdoc turned into a permanent position as the manager of an NMR laboratory (and the salary improved slightly).

And, yes, the spiritual atmosphere in Jerusalem was much better with many opportunities to learn Torah and just to experience the uniqueness of the place. It was in Jerusalem that I met Channa who became my wife. We had been living in the same street for 1½ years till we met by chance somewhere else. In October 1992, we were married and just over a year later we had our first child, Jonathan. We have since moved to Ma'ale Adummim (which is still Greater Jerusalem, sort of) and have had four more children: Rina, Akiva, Sarah and Na'ama. Now as well as just learning Torah, Channa and I now have the opportunity to practice it in a full family atmosphere and enjoy teaching it to our children.

Now my children are growing and grown up. Jonathan is in the Hesder yeshivah program. He has good deductive reasoning skills and has lots of friends. Rina is in national service. Akiva is in yeshivah high school. He is an excellent student. Sarah is in high school and shows great promise. She talks a lot. Na'ama is in second grade and progressing excellently.

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