Lev Raphael: Biography

Lev Raphael
Photo credit: David Olds.
"Lev Raphael is a major figure in Jewish-American Literature."
—Deborah Dash Moore, Chair of Jewish Studies, University of Michigan

Biography

The son of Holocaust survivors, Lev Raphael is a pioneer in writing fiction about America's Second Generation, publishing his first short story about children of survivors in 1978. Many of his early stories on this theme were collected in his award-winning book, Dancing on Tisha B'Av, while the best of those and newer ones appear in his second collection Secret Anniversaries of the Heart.

Raphael is the author of 23 other books, including two novels about survivors, Winter Eyes and The German Money, and three memoirs, Journeys & Arrivals, Writing a Jewish Life, and My Germany. Raphael's fiction has been widely anthologized in the U.S. and Britain, most recently in the anthology Promised Lands, which contains Lev's latest story featuring a child of survivors: "Money."

Along with hundreds of reviews in papers from The Washington Post to The Detroit Free Press, Raphael has published dozens of essays, articles, and stories in a wide range of Jewish publications: Midstream, Hadassah, Psychology and Judaism, The Forward, Reform Judaism, Reconstructionist, Agada, Commentary, The Baltimore Jewish Times, The Detroit Jewish News, Inside, The Jewish Exponent, Jewish Currents, Tikkun, Jerusalem Report, and Shmate.

Raphael has keynoted three international Holocaust conferences where he received standing ovations, as well as appearing at hundreds of invited lectures and readings in Israel, North America, and Europe at Jewish Book Fairs, Jewish Community Centers, synagogues and universities. Featured in two documentaries, he has been a panelist at London's Jewish Film festival. His stories and essays are on university syllabi around the U.S. and in Canada; his fiction has been analyzed in books, scholarly journals and at scholarly conferences, including MLA.

Born and raised in New York City, he received his MFA in Creative Writing and English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he won the Harvey Swados Fiction Prize, awarded by renowned editor Martha Foley for a Holocaust-themed story later published in Redbook. Winner of the Reed Smith Fiction Prize and International Quarterly's Prize for Innovative Prose (judged by D. M. Thomas), Raphael holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Michigan State University. Raphael taught at the university level in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan for 13 years and the first course he designed was a multi-disciplinary study of the Holocaust. He left teaching in 1988 to write and review full-time. He is currently a guest assistant professor at Michigan State University where he teaches creative writing, popular literature, and Jewish-American literature.