Disability Doesn't Define Jordana Klein- A Story of Accomplishments
With a mother and grandmother that are also artistically gifted, it is no surprise that Jordana Klein developed an interest in art as well at a young age. As a child living in Oceanside, New York, Klein always loved drawing. Her passion was greatly supported by her Jewish parents that encouraged her artistic endeavors. In one occurrence, Klein recalls she was in high school when a rabbi confiscated her notebook full of drawings on the day of parent conferences. Presenting it to Klein’s parents that night, the rabbi said, “‘Look [at] what your daughter is doing in my class!’”.
The dialogue that then ensued would be one that Klein would remember.
Klein's mother had asked, “‘Well, what kind of grade is she getting?’”.
“‘Umm, she’s getting A’s’”, the rabbi replied.
“‘Is she bothering anybody by doing this?’”
Hearing this her mother concluded, “‘So, those are very pretty pictures!’”, terminating discussion on that topic.
Klein’s religious upbringing played a major influence in her art making as well. Her father being Benjamin Blech, a professor at Yeshiva University since 1966, an author with books that have sold more than a half-million copies, one of the best-known/most influential rabbis in the world, and rabbi at the Young Israel of Oceanside for 37 years, made it only natural for Klein to be religiously affiliated. With Klein’s faith flowing into her artwork , she later created her now famous artworks and Judaica.
Jordana Klein, 55, New York To Beit Shemesh (photo credit: Karen Feldman)
In contrast to the full-time artist she is now, when Klein was younger, she didn’t originally have that intent. Gifted in finance and strength in her academic interests, Klein was able to gain university degrees – including a master’s in international banking and finance. Success in the field led her to become the bank vice president in the United States for a period of time. She explained her decision, clarifying,
“I always kept my artistic creativity and production on the side. I didn't want to work in the art industry, like graphic design, because then you have to create what they want you to create. My art comes from a different place. I wanted to keep my art mine. It’s not that I’m wholly non-commercial – I don’t mind selling it, it’s just that I have to sell what I created.”
After she met her husband and had three children, Klein made the decision with her husband to move to Israel and leave her life in America behind. There in Israel, Klein began exploring more artistic occupations, such as a variety of part-time jobs, including a few spiritual and inspiring years in an art studio in Jerusalem’s Old City. Her horizons as an artist broadened when a fellow artist at the Israel Museum suggested the possibility that Klein can sell her own artworks. With this thought in mind, Klein started promoting her own paintings and discovered there was an audience for them. At first, she earned her sales from exhibiting her poetic and vibrantly colorful artwork. Most of her art including nature scenes, Israeli scenes, Jewish themes and biblical themes: Jerusalem of Joy (inspired by her time painting in Jerusalem).
"Jerusalem of Joy" by Jordana Klein
Things took a turn for Klein in 2009 when she was impacted by significant health issues and complications. Not being able to travel to exhibit her work and housebound because of her condition, it didn’t stop Klein, if anything it only brought out her creativity. Her lack of mobility heightened her sense to find inspiration, create, and produce, giving way to her experimenting with Judaica designs. Used by Jews for their religious rituals, Judaica, usually beautiful objects that are considered important to enhance mitzvah, are used to honor God.
“I had been looking into doing Judaica for a while – art that you don’t just hang on a wall, but actively use every day.”
Judaica by Jordana at La Vie en Rose Art Gallery, 9 Leib Yaakov St., Arnona, Jerusalem
Despite the strength Klein displayed with her medical condition, another obstacle came into Klein’s life when the coronavirus hit. To Klein and others people like her, it was quite a scare, especially since it was presented in the media that people with a “An Underlying Medical Condition” seemed more likely to get the virus.
Klein revealed her thoughts on this in an article, writing,
“I don’t mind that this soothes people, everyone needs to find ways to cope. But precisely the information that calms others terrifies me.”
Adding on that,
“We need to avoid the risks of classifying people into different categories — categories that may ultimately lead to decisions over who should “qualify” for the next ventilator available.”
Still, good can come from bad. Just like how Klein’s disability led to a new phase in the development of (and demand for) her art, COVID-19 also gave Klein the opportunity to utilize her art to help others by releasing a line of popular artistic masks. When more visitors and purchasers went to her website, jordanaklein.com, to buy her masks and artworks, Klein finds positive outcomes in the challenges she faces, racking up her accomplishments.
A "Group 15" mask design by Jordana Klein
Remaining with a cheerful attitude, Klein communicates,
“Every time I paint or create something, I feel like I am adding something to this world. It gives me a lot of satisfaction and purpose and meaning to life – in addition to raising the children.”
Klein continues to create during this pandemic, expressing her faith and emotions through her art.