In Chicago for the ACES conference.

Judaism Beyond STEM

At the moment, I’m in a state of transition. I’m not a student anymore, but I’m also not someone with a full-time job. Something that I was hoping would help this awkward transition was attending a professional conference. Little did I know that there would be a Jewish freelance editor originally from Metro Detroit among the New York Times and Penguin Random House editors also attending this conference.

Back in April, my friend and I attended our very first American Copy Editors Society (ACES) Annual Conference. On the second day of this national conference, there was a panel with editors from The New York Times, AP Stylebook, MLA and Chicago Manual of Style. For some reason, they opted to put this session, which was a rather huge draw, in a smaller-sized conference room instead of opting for a bigger space. Consequently, the room was completely full. I ended up having to sit on the floor in the very front, where I was looking straight up at the people in charge of publication style guides all over the world. As someone from a town like West Bloomfield, I never thought I would be this close to people who, in the editing world, are akin to celebrities.

In Chicago for the ACES conference.

In Chicago for the ACES conference.

While people were still getting settled trying to find a spot to sit, I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me, Rochelle Broder-Singer, a freelance editor from Miami, Fla. After a little small talk, I found out she was actually from Michigan, too, and Farmington Hills at that. A few moments later, I mentioned I had done some editing work at Hillel Day School, where I had also gone to school, and she said she’d actually graduated from Hillel in 1988. I was blown away.

Interestingly enough, I met several people at this conference who were originally from Michigan. This might not seem so strange at a national conference, but, the thought of meeting someone at one of these conferences who had also gone to Hillel was unimaginable to me when I walked into the ACES conference for the first time. Anyone could have sat next to me, yet the person who did was someone who not only grew up in the same state as I, but grew up in the same school, too. This might have been one of the most unpredictable things to ever happen to me.

That said, I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me for not being as interested in science and math as the other kids in my class. At Frankel Jewish Academy, people thought I was weird for taking two English classes at the same time, even though taking two sciences at the same time was the norm. 

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The fact that I found a fellow Jewish Hillel alum whose career I quite admire at the ACES conference was so incredibly affirming to me. With the expectation that a lot of Frankel and Hillel students will one day grow up to be rich doctors and scientists, people have always told me there’s no way I can make a living in the field I’ve chosen. As someone hoping to enter the editing and publishing industry very soon, having the opportunity to talk to Broder-Singer before this panel gave me the confidence to move forward knowing Jewish editors have a place in the industry, but more importantly, knowing Jewish professionals beyond the STEM fields can succeed in the world.

Do you want to join the Jewish News’ blog team? Contact hlevine [@] thejewishnews.com

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