Prof. Cyril Yechiel Domb, FRS, who died last week aged 91, was a theoretical
physicist who in addition to his scientific works and publications, devoted much
time to the explanation of conflicts between science and traditional Jewish
Born in London in 1920 into an Orthodox family, Domb studied and
lectured in some of the most renowned academic institutions, while contributing
to Jewish society and the wider world around him.
After graduating from
Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1941, Domb joined the research group on radar at
the Admiralty Signal Establishment in Portsmouth as part of the war effort. The
Admiralty’s radar systems could successfully detect enemy aircraft but gave no
indication of their altitude.
Domb helped develop a system that overcame
this problem, in conjunction with several other scientists working at the Signal
Establishment, including noted English astronomer and mathematician Sir Fred
Following the war, Domb took up a lectureship at Cambridge, and
was subsequently appointed chair in theoretical physics at King’s College,
In 1961, Domb published an article in London’s Jewish Chronicle.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, saw the article and
wrote to Domb expressing several reservations about the views expressed in the
piece. The subsequent correspondence led Schneerson to encourage the professor
to engage in work to clear away misconceptions of religious skeptics brought
about by misunderstandings of scientific theory.
Domb went on to publish
numerous articles discussing science and religion, and along with Rabbi Aryeh
Carmell, edited a collection of essays by renowned scientists in their field,
titled Challenge, which sought to reconcile Jewish beliefs with scientific
In his foreword to Challenge, first published in 1976, Domb
wrote, “The Torah Jew does not have to choose between science and Torah... He is
confident that the age-old tradition of Torah has something of supreme value to
say to our broken, fragmented and disillusioned world... Science as such
presents no conflict with the Torah.”
Domb was elected as a fellow to the
Royal Society of London in 1977 for his contributions to the field of
Having moved to Israel, Domb served as a professor on the
faculty at Bar-Ilan University, and was also a visiting professor at the
University of Maryland, Yeshiva University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
and the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Domb is survived by his wife,
sister and six children.