Raphael Tennenbaum (a/k/a Ray, or Rafe, and there was a kid in summer recreation who called me Hershey Bar) was born in Lynchburg, Virginia to Rabbi Lloyd (né Leybel) Tennenbaum (b. 1925, Rochester, N.Y) and Silvia Anna-Maria Suzette Pfeiffer-Belli (b. 1928 Frankfurt am Main, Germany). He grew up in Huntington, New York, where his father led first a Conservative congregation and then a Reconstructionist one. The experience supplied Mom with material for her best-selling novel, "Rachel, the Rabbi's Wife."
R. remembers attending Haverford College, graduating with a major in philosophy, the first student to pass the very demanding Intro Logic midterm at Bryn Mawr in seven years. He then assumed a succession of positions -- compromising, appalling, and including: deli clerk, office temp, ticket-taker, box-office functionary, staff writer for Newsday (LI) sports, bookstore clerk, office temp, office temp, hospital clerk, freelance writer, office temp, and video director and producer. During this time he began contributing to publications, writing features for all the golf magazines -- Golf Illustrated, Golf Magazine, Golf World, Links, Golf Digest, Maximum Golf, while also reporting for Newsday and Wired and contributing to the Weekly Forward, and the satirical online 'zine Suck as well as Continental Magazine, RIS News, and Investor's Business Daily.
He made his mark as the first in golf to cover the uneasy relationship between golf and the environment
with a column for Golf Illustrated
in 1985. Later that year, his book-length investigation of professional wrestling, "Sleeper Hold,"
was hailed by wrestling fans and journalists as an impeccably-researched, vastly entertaining and truly inside look at the pro wrestling industry, "the best mainstream coverage of the era," in the words of one well-known wrestling writer. A 1987 Golf Illustrated story about emotions
anticipated the focus on the mental aspects of competitive golf; his 1994 feature about caddies
on the PGA Tour earned accolades from correspondents and television and radio broadcasters, while a Golf World
guest column about team golf
from later that year presaged the resurgence in match-play interest among golf fans. He honed in on the social changes wrought by the electronic age in a 1998 cover story for Yahoo! Internet Life
titled "The Email Chronicles."
His sports-related op-eds have placed Tiger Woods
in the context of the post-Vietnam world of golf; anticipated the Supreme Court's ruling in the Casey Martin case
, and deconstructed the psyche of then-Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight
. He's written engagingly about comedy -- about W.C. Fields
and Woody Allen
for Newsday and the Weekly Forward. In 2008, he rode his Moto Guzzi motorcycle cross-country and wrote about the experience for Fairways And Greens
. For two seasons starting in 2010, he worked as an MBA application essay consutant, helping business school candidates get into Stanford, Wharton, and MIT, among many others; he has also worked as a advertising copywriter on for KBSP and Ritta and Associates, and as a technical writer for numerous large and small businesses in the insurance, banking, and healthcare industries.
In January 2017, he was awarded the International Network of Golf's Best Profile Writing Award for the April 2016 cover story for The Met Golfer, Lost in the Sands of Time
He is divorced and lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. In recent years he has worked steadily as an actor and comedian
, making his off-Broadway debut in Devoted Dreams
at the Beckett Theatre in 2015, and performing as Abraham in the Metropolitan Playhouse's well-received 2017 revival of Leah, the Forsaken
. He played a supporting role in the Cyril Morin's tale of 1980s bohemian New York CIty life NY84
as Harold Sherer. You can see him in an upcoming episode of season 2 of Master of None
and as a prurient philosophy professor in the forthcoming short comedy/thriller Daddys_Girl_99
, written and directed by Johnny Frohman.