Our community is lucky to have someone like Ellie Slovis. She was born and grew up on the Upper East Side of New York City. Ellie is one of five siblings, with whom she remains very close. Her dad was an OB/GYN, and her mom stayed home, where she was a role model to Ellie, and taught all her children the practice of Tikkun Olam, the idea that we are all here to make this world better for everybody. Ellie was raised in a very Jewish environment. Ellie attended Hebrew School twice a week, Sunday School, and Saturday morning services. Every Friday night, her parents would have aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends join them for Shabbat dinner. For Ellie, these dinners were so very special.

Ellie had always wanted to work with children, so she attended William Smith College, in upstate New York, where she studied Experimental Psychology. While she was there, she met her husband, Tom. Ellie went on to earn a master’s in social work from Columbia University, while Tom attended medical school and the University of Pennsylvania. Married at 23, Ellie and Tom moved many times for his work as a Pediatric Radiologist. Tom wound up at Children's Hospital of Detroit, where he eventually became Chief of the Radiology department.

Together they had four children: Michael, Debbie, Max and Lisa. According to Ellie, the children like to say, “Each of us was born in a different state.” Michael was born in Pennsylvania, Debbie in Colorado, Max in Arizona, and Lisa in New York. Now, there are 12 grandkids whom Ellie loves to visit and be a part of their lives. Five years ago, her husband Tom passed away. She says, “You have to move with the changes and try to see the positive when things go wrong.”

Ellie loves to meet people and welcome them. She became involved in the Federation’s Jewish Welcome Wagon; she changed it to Shalom Detroit where she helped families get acclimated to the community. Ellie taught English to immigrants and volunteered at the Children's Hospital as the “art lady,” where she brought art projects to children who were being treated for cancer. Ellie also was very involved as a volunteer at Cranbrook’s Institute of Science, while still having a job as a social worker. She loved working at the Science Institute and the more she volunteered, the more it started becoming a job. Ellie was most proud that she developed a program for visually and hearing-impaired kids while working there. She also co-chaired the Bar/Bar Mitzvah Twinning Program to help children understand the struggles of Jews in the former Soviet Union.

Ellie spends lots of time in Arizona, and in nature with her siblings and family. She enjoys being active by hiking, biking, playing tennis and pickleball. She loves to learn, meet people, and help others in any way she possibly can.

After talking to Ellie about her life, I believe she is a remarkably humble and extraordinary person. I can only hope to be as positive, caring, and selfless as she is as I grow up. Ellie had many wise things to share with me, but I would say her philosophy on Tikkun Olam had the greatest impact on me. When discussing ways to make the world a better place, she said,

If we all make little dents, it's going to be a big bump. All those little dents mean a lot.