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Personal Story

Jesse and Steve Cleveland


Jesse and Steve Cleveland are committed to building a Jewish home, and Etz Chaim is with them every step of the way. The couple, who met as camp counselors in 2003, come from very different backgrounds. Steve didn’t grow up Jewish, but was eager to learn. Jesse, on the other hand, was raised with a strong sense of Jewish identity. She celebrated holidays with her family and attended Jewish day school, but says she took her heritage for granted.


In 2019, Jesse traveled to Israel on a Momentum trip with Elana Pomeranz. She came back inspired and ready to grow Jewishly. She introduced Steve to Rabbi Zev Pomeranz, and the couple’s Jewish journey began to deepen. 


The Clevelands took a 20-week halacha class with Etz Chaim and began learning with Rabbi and Elana Pomeranz. They learned about Shabbos, keeping a kosher kitchen, and so much more. Last year, Steve joined Rabbi Pomeranz and eight other men on the men’s Momentum trip, which he describes as “eye-opening and life-changing.” Their favorite Etz Chaim program is Wine and Wisdom, and they try to make it to every session. The Clevelands have started observing more and more mitzvot over time, a rewarding process for them and their two children.


“Wherever we’ve been, there’s been an Etz Chaim program that meets us there. We’ve really grown a lot because of the resources we have from Etz Chaim and the Pomeranzes,” Jesse says. “We feel empowered with the knowledge to make changes in our lives.”


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