CHYE making an impact: meet Rabbi Yehudah L. Altein,CEO "Prolific"

Yehuda is a writer, translator, and editor specializing in Jewish academia. He has served on the research team of Machon Shmuel—The Sami Rohr Research Institute since 2013, researching and writing papers on a wide variety of topics, such as Jewish history, scriptural exegesis, halachah, and chasidus. He recently founded Prolific, to house his work and many ventures in Jewish writing and translation.

CHYE took a few moments to catch up with him:

1 Tell us about your background and how you got into your business:

When I was in yeshivah in Montreal, I was involved in transcribing shiurim as well as working on the kovetz haaros the yeshivah published. While studying in kollel, someone approached me about working on a certain project. I was able to apply my writing and transcribing skills to edit the content he wanted. Since then I've worked on a number of major projects, including a translation of Taharah Kahalachah into English, as well as preparing material for a number of community and scholarly publications. I’ve translated and edited various articles for the Perspectives and Compass magazines, prepared the shaalos u'teshuvos section of the Yagdil Torah Bulletin, and engaged in original research for Machon Shmuel.

2 Tell us about your business:

There's a frequent misunderstanding about translation. Many people think merely consulting a dictionary and virtually transcribing the sentence structure of the original into English is enough. However, in my experience, when people translate something without a proper understanding of the content, it must often be entirely rewritten. If the translation adheres too closely to the original, than it can be disjointed or dry. If it strays too far from the source, the potential dangers are even greater, especially with subject matters that have an important practical or halachic application.

With Prolific, I stress my ability to bring an accurate understanding of the content to the translation. I focus on revealing the nuance of the text, and the translation is supplemented with original research and clarifying sources. I strive to think along the lines the author drew, expressing the content in a way that enhances it and makes it easily accessible to the reader.Currently my work at Prolific is spread through word of mouth. Most of the day I focus on a handful of larger projects, with the remaining time set aside for smaller one-off projects.

3 Tell us how CHYE helped you:

I came to CHYE after reading about one of their workshops online. I knew that I had the skills to successfully run my business, but I didn't yet have the strategy to help it grow and thrive as a long-term business. I sat down with Mr. Yehudah Berg and Mr. Gedaliah Robinson and found their advice incredibly helpful. They helped me work on branding and building a business strategy for my venture. Yehudah suggested that I file for DBA sole proprietorship for Prolific and Gedaliah helped me with specific ideas on how to expand. Most importantly they put me in the right frame of mind, literally re-framing my point of reference and thus giving me a vision far greater in scope.