Ali Stern is grateful to live in a place like Cleveland.
“There are a lot of options for how you can express yourself spiritually and find a Jewish school that fits the values of your family and the community and there’s space to grow and create,” Stern said.
A grant writer for The Jewish Agency for Israel, the largest Jewish nonprofit organization in the world, Stern first worked from New York, then remotely from Israel. When her husband matched at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital for his residency, the Stern family relocated to Cleveland.
“I love getting feedback from the fundraisers after I write a grant and a fundraiser submits it to a donor and then gets back to me and says, ‘They loved what you wrote, they’re going to give more than they originally said they would,’” Stern said when asked about her job. “Knowing that what I write can actually make a difference in somebody’s life, that I helped get funding for a program that helps people, is really rewarding.”
Stern is very proud of her work toward the creation of the Cleveland Partnership Minyan.
“There were other people, many of us who are not originally from Cleveland, who were missing a true partnership minyan here and felt like that was the one thing we were sort of missing from our spiritual lives, and creating that was tremendously rewarding, and looking and seeing it grow over time has been a really thrilling experience,” Stern said. “We’re currently on hiatus because of COVID, but it was, and continues to be, a really beautiful community of people who really want to bring something special and unique to Jewish Cleveland and I’m grateful that I got to be a part of that and I still get to be a part of that.”
She said even small acts of kindness make a big difference. Stern recently volunteered as a vote chaser, calling individuals who requested a mail in ballot, but never sent it back to the board of elections, to make sure it was received and answer any questions. She said she caught one young man on a day where he felt like sharing.
“He was going through a lot and we talked for a while and he was having some issues with the legal system and the criminal justice system,” Stern said. “He told me he didn’t really have anybody else to talk to in his life and he wanted to know if he could text me after his court date. I said that he could and we’ve been in touch and he shared with me that, what he really needed in his life, more than anything else, was a male role model and for someone to set a good example for him and get him back on track.”
Stern was able to connect him with a social worker she knew and said he is now on track to receive services “for possibly the first time in his life.”
“You never know what’s gonna happen when you make these calls and this was unexpected,” Stern said. “Just because of how the stars aligned, I was able to interact with one person, and hopefully, that’s something that can make a difference to that one person.”
She said the person she looks up to most is her mother, who Stern described as an outgoing, “amazing, amazing person.”
“She’s always taught me that you make your own happiness, that if you’re in a situation and it’s not serving you, you have the ability to change it,” Stern said. “She’s very involved in the community and her motto is basically the campsite rule, which is you are to leave people better than how you found them. She’s always been that way and it’s just inspiring.”