Tuesday, 24 June 2014


Brief, delayed notice in The Times

Reuven died on 29 April. Today, nearly two months later The Times has granted him a brief notice (244 words) at the end of its obituary pages. I take the liberty of reproducing this in its entirety 
Reuven Feuerstein
Reuven Feuerstein, psychologist, was born on August 21, 1921. He died on April 29, aged 92.
Children with disabilities should be integrated into society as much as possible, argued Professor Feuerstein – especially when it came to education. The psychologist helped young people across the globe, including this with Down's syndrome and autism, to develop their cognitive functions and feel comfortable in classrooms.
His philosophy was simple: regardless of special needs, no one was unteachable. The Feuerstein Institute which he founded and directed, is an international education, treatment and research centre that helps both children and adults overcome psychological and social difficulties. It trains therapists and teachers in the 'Feuerstein Method' now used in more than 80 countries.
Born in 1921 in Romania, he was one of nine siblings. After the war he worked in youth villages, helping to educate child victims of the Holocaust. He completed degrees in general and clinical psychology at the University of Geneva. In 1970 he earned his PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Sorbonne. His wife Berta predeceased him. He had three sons: Raffi, a rabbi who is now the chairman of the F Institute, Aharon and Dani, and a daughter, Noa.

Obituaries in The Times are published unattributed.

It is interesting that Reuven earned this late, small notice in the United Kingdom. Immediately after his death the Jerusalem Post published an informed an passionate feature by Hannah Brown, and there was a further personal tribute written by Rochel Sylvetsky in Arutz Sheva, and there was a formal obituary in Jewish News. I published an informal appreciation in Conductive World but the English-speaking media appear not on the whole to have marked his passing. An item in Actualité Juive has called him 'Un géant de la pensée'. Over forthcoming months professional and academic journals around the world may come up with something better to index the esteem in which he is presently held outside of the Jewish world.

It is an odd, bald little notice in today's Times, and I wonder why it was done. It renders Reuven's work and achievement inconsequential and uninteresting, and his ideas unchallenging and without significance –
...children with disabilities should be integrated into society as much as possible... helped young people... including those with Down's syndrome and autism... develop their cognitive functions and feel comfortable in classrooms... regardless of special needs no one was unteachable... overcome psychological and social difficulties...

Er, that's it... damned with faint praise within in under 250 words. No revolutionary ideas, no revolutionary spirit, no implications. You could say as much about your local SENCO. Surely that is not the measure of his public reputation and esteem in the English public domain....


(2014) Professor Reuven Feuerstein, 93, Winner of the Israel Prize (obituary), Jewish News, 1 May

(2014) Reuven Feuerstein (obituary), The Times, 24 June, p. 52

Brown, H. (2014) Professor Reuven Feuerstein: A personal remembrance from a very grateful mother, Jerusalem Post, 30 April

Scemama, Y. (2014) La succession du professeur Reuven Feuerstein sera assurée par son fils, Actualité Juive, 2 June

Sutton, A. (2014) Reuven Feuerstein (2014) Some reminiscences of the past, some hope for the future, Conductive World, 15 May

Sylvetsky, R. (2014) Op-Ed: walking with greatness: Prof. Reuven Feuerstein, z"l, Arutz Sheva, 4 May

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