Adoff grew up in the South Bronx, the son of Jewish immigrants from a town near the Polish-Russian border. He enrolled in the Columbia University School of Pharmacy but transferred to City College of New York, where he received a B. A. in history and literature. He married Virginia Hamilton in 1960 and they lived in Europe briefly before moving back to New York City. Adoff taught social studies in Harlem and the Upper West Side of New York. Adoff and Hamilton eventually moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, where Adoff still lives as of 2017.
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