Although I have spent much of my career editing other people's writing, I have also written myself. I spent two years working as a content editor for Virtual Communities, writing introductory copy for website articles as well as my own articles.
Some time in late 2010 I received an email from Menachem Kirschenbaum of Kol Menachem Publishing, New York. He was looking for a writer for a project, and he was wondering if I might be interested in being that writer. I had only recently begun my freelance career; Menachem had contacted me because he had seen my name in the acknowledgments of one of the last books I had worked on during my time at The Toby Press, The Prime Ministers, by the very talented Ambassador Yehuda Avner. I had not written that book, only edited it, but that did not seem to bother Menachem.
I have written before, in an informal way, but wouldn't have described myself as a "writer." While at Toby Press I often wrote catalogue copy and jacket cover copy, and occasionally press releases. In previous jobs, working in hi-tech and as a 'content editor' for Virtual Communities, I wrote introductory copy to articles on the websites and occasionally wrote my own articles. I'd written book reviews, and a few personal articles that a quick trawl through the web would probably still find. But I still didn't - at that point - consider myself a professional writer.
Menachem explained to me what the project was. He had collected interviews with people who had interacted with the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in profound and intimate ways, and he was looking for a writer who could take that raw material, add a pinch of imagination and a dash of empathy, and create dramatic, engaging accounts of these people, their lives, and their relationships with the Rebbe - accounts that would allow for a full appreciation of what these prominent men and women themselves prized in their interactions with the Rebbe. It sounded like a fascinating exercise, and I was ripe for a new challenge. Menachem sent me one of the interviews, and I prepared a sample for him. I was delighted when he pronounced himself happy with the pages, and told me that the Kol Menachem editorial committee had agreed that in me, they had finally found the writer they were looking for (after trying out sixteen others first).
Writing the book took eighteen months, and was a fascinating and enriching experience for me on many levels. I do not come from the Chasidic world, so I had a steep learning curve to deal with, but one of my innate qualities is a very strong sense of empathy, which I found useful in putting myself into the shoes of these subjects and writing their stories. These stories were wildly different from each other. Some of the interviewees were religious and had always been, some were not, or had only gradually become so. Some were doctors, others teachers or academics or rabbis. One of the most moving interviews I read came from a man whose life spanned a childhood in Nazi Germany, teenage years in British-Mandate Palestine, a young adulthood in Mexico, and adulthood as a noted economist, a consultant to the UN and the president of Peru, and president himself of Bar Ilan University.
The book will be forthcoming from Kol Menachem Publishers in the near future.
In 2014 I was retained by Ohr Torah Institutions to write a biography of Robert M. Beren, a philanthropist based in Florida who supports their educational institutions. I visited Mr Beren on a number of occasions to interview him, did my own research into people, places, and historical moments that were connected to his life, and wrote a 120-page biography that both the commissioning institution and the subject were very happy with. Most recently, I was privileged to help write the stories of two Holocaust survivors, taking their words and shaping them into passionate eloquent narratives.
Testimonials for all these projects can be found on the testimonials page.
I am available as a writer or ghostwriter for individuals or organizations who would like to use my skills. I would be happy to send samples of my writing to any who are interested. I am particularly interested in helping those who want to tell their life stories, or their family story, but lack the necessary skill themselves.