Mordechai Lightstone, 36, Digital Pioneer


@mottel / @mottel / @TheRealMottel

The Jewish Week’s annual 36 Under 36 honors young leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers who are making a difference in the life of Jewish New York. For the full list of this year’s “36ers,” click here.

What do you do?

Together with my wife Chana,  I run Tech Tribe, a community for young Jews in tech and digital media. Tech Tribe, an affiliate of Chabad Young Professionals, hosts an annual unplugged Shabbat meal at SXSW in Austin, attracting some 300 people. We create events that weave modern trends — virtual and augmented Reality, NFTs and more — with Jewish celebrations and bring Jewish experiences to tech offices such as Google, Facebook and Buzzfeed. I also helped pioneer Chabad’s presence on social media.

How did the pandemic affect your work?

We’re already deeply integrated in the digital space, so when COVID began we were very quickly able to ramp up our digital offerings, expanding our weekly newsletter, online classes and chats. We wanted to go beyond the Zoom experience, so we created hybrid events like at home wine tastings and virtual challah bakes and experimented with virtual events, such as creating the world’s first Zoom menorah that allowed people unable to join our socially distant Hanukkah party ‘zoom in’ from inside the menorah itself. We also found many of our relationships deepening, using the time during the pandemic to create more one on one study partners, regular check-ins and help people bring Jewish observance to their homes.

Do you have a favorite inspiring quote?

“A person should always look at himself as equally balanced between merit and sin and the world as equally balanced between merit and sin. If he performs one mitzvah, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others.” (Maimonides, as explained through the teachings of the Lubavitcher rebbe.)

What’s a fun fact about you?

I collect high-quality artisanal pencils.

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