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July 29, 2016 6:06 pm

Report: Britain’s ‘Most Famous Child Prodigy’ Now Living Low-Key Life as Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem

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Child mathematics prodigy Ruth Lawrence is living the life of an orthodox Jew in Israel. Photo: Hebrew University.

Child mathematics prodigy Ruth Lawrence is living the life of an orthodox Jew in Israel. Photo: Hebrew University.

Britain’s “most famous child prodigy” is now living a low-key life as an orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, the UK’s Daily Mail revealed on Friday.

According to the report, mathematician Ruth Lawrence — who made history when, at the age of 10, she won a place at Oxford University, becoming the youngest person ever to be accepted — works as a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is the mother of four children. The Daily Mail‘s report comes amidst a national television contest seeking to crown the “brainiest child” in all of Britain. 

Lawrence’s father, Harry, told the newspaper that his daughter is “bringing up four children side-by-side with being a profoundly loved teacher at the university. She has a happy family and a happy marriage.”

Responding to push-back by the newspaper, which referred to the development as a “troubling tale,” Harry said of his daughter, “She’s influencing the lives of hundreds of people who will become mathematicians and physicists who will make a huge contribution to the world.”

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“Who’s to say that isn’t more worthwhile than a firework that produces something astounding?” he asked. “Why is this being put forward as somehow a failure?”

Ruth grew up under acute public scrutiny in Britain, with many questioning the intense relationship between father and daughter. Harry had pulled her from school at the age of five and home schooled her in the family kitchen. According to the Daily Mail, Ruth and Harry “would speak as a ‘we’ rather than ‘I’” and shared an “instinctive disdain for anything outside of their own narrow existence.”

In 1997, while father and daughter were living together in Michigan, Ruth “cut ties” with her father, the report said, and “moved to Jerusalem after falling in love with an Israeli mathematician, Ariyeh Neimark.”

The couple married in 1998 and “moved into a flat [apartment] in a drab suburb and Ruth became an observant Jew,” the Daily Mail said. “She started covering her head, speaking Hebrew and reportedly didn’t allow men into her home unless her husband was present.”

Harry said he speaks regularly with his daughter on the phone and she comes to visit him once or twice a year in Michigan while conducting mathematical research in the US.

Ruth, for her part, has publicly said that she does not want her children experiencing the same childhood she did, adding that she wanted them to be “normal” and grow up “naturally.”

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  • No mention about her mother?

  • Avraham Sonenthal

    However, why can’t she also so her own research and publish her own papers?

  • Ani

    Sounds like she is living a wonderful life now. Israel will be a wonderful place to raise her children. Life as a “child prodigy” isn’t a normal life. I’m sure she knows what she wants for her kids. Having a real childhood won’t prevent them from being smart and making contributions to the world as adults.

  • Jay Lavine

    The gulf between the Jewish and secular ideas of what constitutes success in life is cavernous.

  • Luciano Tanto

    …”normal life like orthodox”?, funny.

    • Fletcher

      Not funny, just not familiar to you. I wish more Jews lived in the ‘drab’ suburbs of Yerushalayim.