Nora Jean and Michael Levin in collaboration with The Jüdische Kulturbund Project wrote Two Pianos: Playing for Life, drawing from their sourcebook Papers, Please—A Twentieth Century Odyssey and materials from the Hoffman family.

Nora Jean, a Philadelphia native and the first “real American” in her 1930s immigrant family, inherited entrepreneurial skills, matchmaking instincts, and love of classical music from her parents, a Polish-born businessman and Russian-Romanian concert pianist. Her parents met and married in Leipzig Germany (1926-31), then fled with her older sister to Palestine and the U.S. (1936-38). Her family’s first university graduate, she earned political science degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met Michael.

Since 1978 Jean has juggled a quest to document her parents’ tumultuous European pasts with consumer-protection day jobs. From 2004 she has been spokesperson and director of Caring From a Distance, Inc. (CFAD), the nation’s only nonprofit providing trusted honest-broker information and advocacy for long-distance caregivers.  She created and manages content for CFAD’s award-winning ad-free website,

From 1976-85 Jean co-founded and co-managed The Workplace, Inc., Washington DC’s first rental office suite for writers, consultants and non-profit staff. During that time she and her colleague Janet Steiger co-authored To Light One Candle: A Handbook for Organizing, Funding and Maintaining Public Service Projects (ABA Press, 1978-1979). In 1986 she wrote a path-breaking multi-edition step-by-step eldercare book, How to Care for Your Parents: A Handbook for Adult Children (Storm King Press, 1986; Norton, 1990-97). She has spoken and written widely on eldercare in print and media venues, including the Today Show (1997).

Michael has been writing creatively all his adult life, legal deadlines notwithstanding.  He holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Law School, and Oxford, where he was a Thouron Scholar.   Chased by a Vietnam-era draft board, he declined playwriting fellowships to Carnegie and Yale Drama Schools, likely saving American theater. He has published work in over 50 periodicals or anthologies and has received numerous poetry and feature journalism awards.  His first collection, Watered Colors (Poetica), was named a Best Poetry Book for May 2014 by the Washington Independent Review of Books. A second collection, Man Overboard (Finishing Line Press), will be released in 2018.

Before entering private practice Mike served as an appellate lawyer, counselor and policy executive in several federal agencies; in the Carter White House as Deputy Director of a Cabinet-level OSHA Reform Task Force; and as legislative aide to former Rep. Andrew Maguire (D-NJ) and the late Sen Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), He was awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service (1982) and was an EPA nominee (1985) for the National Public Service Awards.

Mike is Contributing Editor to BioCycle Magazine and a past contributing writer to the Pennsylvania Gazette. He has been listed in Who’s Who in American LawWho’s Who in Business and Finance, and Who’s Who in the World.  Some of his work is at


Project Team