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Yitz Jordan dreamed of an online community where JOC are celebrated and supported. Then he made it happen.

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Photo: Courtesy Yitz Jordan

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If necessity is the mother of invention, Yitz Jordan is the father of self-actualization. The 42-year-old Brooklyn activist, web developer and entrepreneur has been realizing his dreams his entire life; most recently as the chief product officer at tribeherald.com, a new site for Jews of Colour, that he founded with Rabbi Shais Rishon, aka MaNishtana.

Launched on Juneteenth, a day marking slaves’ emancipation in the U.S., Tribe Herald was born out of a need for a localized address for Jews of Colour to share experiences, learn about events and find support as many find themselves caught between divided loyalties.

“Around the time we were discussing the necessity of one central place for Jews of Colour, the antisemitic attacks in Monsey and Jersey City took place,” said Jordan, who also goes by Y-Love, a nod to his rapper sideline.

“Too many people committing those acts were People of Colour. And who gets caught in the middle when Jews and People of Colour are in a conflict? Jews of Colour. We heard stories of Jews of Colour having to take sides, and people from biracial families getting into conflicts. We decided we needed somewhere where people can come together and talk about this, and get support. All of these needs started to come up for our community.”

And the community – not just Jews of Colour, but the global Jewish community – loves Tribe Herald. The site garnered 5,000 unique visitors two weeks into its launch, and its Facebook  page already has over 3,300 followers.

“We’ve gotten such a diverse response,” said Jordan. “We’re as popular in Toronto, as we are in New York, if not more. We have continuous web traffic from Toronto, and Montreal, and are getting hits from Vancouver and Halifax.”

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Long before he co-founded Tribe Herald, a very young Jordan, who grew up in Maryland, began with a wish.

“When I was seven years old, I knew there was a group of people called Jews, and I had to be one of them, period. My parents accepted it the way any parent would take their (kid) being into anything, you know, go along with it, and hope it’s a phase! My mom used it to her advantage. She’d say, ‘Jewish boys clean their rooms and eat their vegetables.’ She would try to encourage what she could when I was little. She would bring home copies of the Baltimore Jewish Times or challah as a treat.”

A seder invite from his mom’s colleague led to Jordan’s acquisition of his first kippa, “an electric-blue, 1950s keepsake from ‘Ira so and so’s’ bar mitzvah.”

It was Jordan’s late grandmother, Clara Lopez, who was his biggest supporter. “She wanted to be Jewish her whole life. She acted as my translator for the rest of the family. She was like, ‘He’s wearing a yarmulke, I’m telling you he’s not going to want to do this, or eat this. He’s going to be busy that day.”

When he decided at nine that he was “done with Christmas”, it was Lopez who bought him his first menorah.

Photo: Courtesy Yitz Jordan

At age 20, Jordan not only converted to Judaism; some might say he went full throttle. He became a Bostoner Hasid, studied at Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem and Monsey, New York, and began a rabbinic ordination program, but dropped out, to pursue teaching and music. He became successful as Y-Love the Hasidic rapper, performing regularly and appearing in international media.

Upon coming out in 2012, his Hasidic community no longer welcomed him with open arms. Their painful rejection is something he often laments.  “My whole background has been in the Orthodox world. Even though I’m not observant now, or living geographically in the community, in my heart of hearts, I’m still Orthodox in my belief system.”  

Also ingrained in Jordan’s belief system, is the idea that advocacy and action effect change. It is this philosophy that inspired him to launch Tribe Herald. “Now that we are having this conversation, and people are realizing that Jews of Colour aren’t being represented, and aren’t being celebrated, and are being marginalized, now that we’re having that awakening, that collective awareness is only a good thing.”

Always one to dream big, Jordan is already looking forward to Tribe Media’s fall launches of an apparel line, a Tribe Herald app, and two new outlets; TribeQ serving LGBTQ Jews, and Sapphire, catering to Jewish women.

Aviva Engel is an award-winning editor with over 20 years of experience as a freelance journalist. In 2005, Aviva launched Exceptional Family, Canada’s Resource Magazine for Parents of Exceptional Children. Under Aviva’s leadership, 23 issues of the quarterly magazine were produced, winning three consecutive Hygeia Awards from the Canadian Public Relations Society for excellence in Canadian healthcare communications.

 

Aviva is the director of communications at Hebrew Academy in Montreal and the lead editor and master storyteller at outsourcecopywriting.com

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Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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