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Elisheva Gross OR Kellie Kravitz – A journey through life, Judaism, Intuitive Eating, and Loss

Pic with Kelly Gross

Elisheva Gross AKA Kelly Gross, originally from San Diego currently lives in West Hempstead with her husband and kids. She grew up going to public school, switched to an all-Jewish girls’ school when she was a senior, and made her way to being a balas teshuva and meeting me at the seminary Tomer Devora.

We started with her journey towards becoming frum.

When I was a sophomore in high school, there was a Jewish club that gave out free pizza. So, everyone used to tell me that since I am Jewish, I should be the one to get pizza for all of them. I wasn’t really interested in going but I did. I ended up meeting the most amazing couple, a lot of people know them, Jackie Bitton and her husband. I became very close with them.

The Bitton’s told me about camp Nageela, which sounded awesome. I sent my registration in but then I found out it’s only girls. So, I said there is no way I am going, that is too weird. A few weeks later right before camp started, a cool-sounding girl called me and told me about camp Nageela and she really pulled me in. I thought hey this might be a really cool experience. I ended up going and I fell in love with it.

As a side note, I bought the only Jewish article I owned- a pink tallis!

That year after camp, I was still in public school, but I was questioning a lot of what was going on. Lashon Hara was a huge thing for me. It really struck me that there is this whole concept of not speaking Lashon Hara. The next summer I went back to camp and then my senior year I switched to an all-girls school that had just 35 girls.

I honestly do not know where I had the strength to do that, it’s only because of Hashem! I am a very real person. It was very hard and looking back I don’t know if I would have given someone the advice to do that.

Since the school was so small, there are not that many people to become friends with. I am thankful for the friends I made. I also became friendly with their families, which was nice.

Then I went to Tomer Devora which was life-changing.

Next, we discussed Kelly’s career as a nurse.

Originally, I wanted to become a nurse because I like helping people. I was in Touro, and I had a biology teacher with an accent I couldn’t understand, so I wasn’t doing well in her class. She pulled me aside and told me either I have to withdraw or I’m going to fail, so I withdrew.

I decided to go for social work. I liked it, but I really wanted to work with the low-income population, and I thought it would be hard to get a job like that, so I decided to go back to nursing. I went to community college to do my bio and chem. At that point, I was dating my husband and he was very encouraging and helpful, so I was able to get through it. Then I went to Adelphi and did it through the new seminary with Rebbetzin Bulka’s program. It was amazing to have a group of frum girls where everyone helped each other and wanted the best for each other, there was no competition.

I am really thankful that I got a job quickly in LIJ, but I discovered it wasn’t ideal for me. People say it’s a great profession for frum women. It’s a great profession for people who don’t need a lot of sleep, have a lot of help, and don’t feel mom guilt. Those are all things that were hard for me while I worked in the hospital for around 3 years.

Then covid happened. I can’t really fully explain what I saw or what we had to do.

Originally, I was on the cardiac floor and then we were switched to the covid unit. We didn’t have a choice. But I don’t think I was scared. I remember having people take pictures of me in the full get-up on the first day on the covid unit. But no doubt it was very difficult, and I was ready to get out. So, thank God I found a different job, through Northwell but with oncology, outpatient. Of course, every place has its pros and cons, but I am much happier with this setup.

I don’t see myself working as a nurse long-term, I am going to keep my certification as long as I need, but I have this feeling that I need to do something else. I don’t know what it is but I am always davening for clarity.

There is a concept I have been thinking of, that I have discussed with my husband and others. There are so many things Baalei Teshuva need help with once they are frum, something like a Baalei Teshuva coach.

(Gila) My business coach, Tzippy Gross, always tells me when I am anxious about speaking in public or something else, to reframe it. You don’t have a choice, people need you, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

I think the biggest fear that people have before starting something new is losing their steady income or having health insurance. But if it’s something that will give you fulfillment, you can start off doing it once a month as a volunteer thing and then people will get to know you as that person and you can start charging for it. She also says that everything in the world is like an energy exchange. When you start doing something enough, people end up wanting to pay you.

Next, we discussed how Intuitive Eating and diet culture fits into Kelly’s life.

Since middle school, I was always chunky. I was also very active; I did water polo-look it up its very cool and it’s a great workout. Actually, I tried organizing it for frum women a few years ago, but it didn’t work out.

My self-image is something that I am very much working on. I took your course and learned so much and I try to remind myself to use the tips you gave us. I also learn a lot from your Instagram posts. Recently you called out, in a nice way, Jewish clothing stores. I am tall, I am 5”8 and I have a big body. I can’t walk into a Jewish store and find something that looks good on me and is not like a garbage bag. I find it really unfortunate that clothing stores don’t sell clothing geared toward people like me.

I was looking at a picture of myself after I got married and now I think I looked stunning then. But back then I know I did not think that.

I thought I was so fat and big. It’s so sad. I want my kids to grow up knowing what a healthy human is and not judging or comparing bodies. I also try not to use the word fat. I follow your posts and others on these kinds of topics because I think it’s really important. I want my kids to be grounded.

Since there were times in the past that I did not like my body, now it gives me a perspective of being more thankful for what I have at the moment.

I try not to feel negative about myself. I may weigh more now than I did then, but I am a kind person, and I am not based on my body size. People didn’t like me more when I was skinnier, and I am still liked. Whoever didn’t like me then, still doesn’t like me now.

When I walk down the block and see someone I have not seen in a while, I think they are probably thinking wow she gained so much weight…Instead, I try to think that if they are judging me for that I don’t want to be their friend. I am more than my weight and if people want to know that they will take the time to get to know me.

I am in DBT, one night after one of the recent tragedies, maybe it was Meron. I was having very negative thoughts. So, I had my phone in a different room and I said all these good positive things about myself and my life because I needed to remind myself that there is good in the world and positivity in my life.

Next, we discussed Kelly’s loss.

Before I start, I want to give a disclaimer that I am able to talk about it without so much emotion because I went to a lot of therapy for it. It is also therapeutic for me to talk about it.

I got pregnant two months after we got married and I was very sick with hyperemesis gravidarum. No one really knew how severe it really was. We had to move into my in-laws for some time because I was not functioning. I finally did get to a point where we were able to move back home because I was able to function-ish. The baby was fine by all of the appointments. At the 38th week appointment, I told the doctor that I feel less movement but when I eat candy or something like that there’s movement, they did a heartbeat check and there was movement, and everything was fine.

At the next appointment a week later, they had a hard time finding the heartbeat.

Finally, they found it but it was in a weird place, so they hooked me up in the monitoring room, where once again they had a hard time finding a heartbeat. I am pretty good at judging my surroundings, so I called my husband. His sister just had a baby in Israel, so his whole family was in Israel. I told my husband to call his mother and tell her something is not right and to go daven at the Kotel.

Meanwhile, they are having a hard time finding a heartbeat, so they rush me into a private room. There are brown boots in the room when I get there, so they obviously kicked someone out of the room in order for me to get into the room. At that point, a nurse was waiting for me, and I knew what was going on so I was crying. An ultrasound technician was also bought it and I see her shaking her head. They are not allowed to say anything, so we had to wait for the doctor to come in. Michelle Santoyo, an amazing doctor, broke the news to me.

I was obviously hysterical. I called my husband who was working in Manhattan, screaming that there is no baby.

His boss, who I am so thankful for, threw him into a cab with cash and told him not to worry about it. Once my husband was there, we had a discussion about the next steps. The baby was very high, so I wasn’t ready naturally. They explained everything very clearly to me. I choose not to start with a C-section because I did not need another constant reminder and also because of future pregnancies. They told the hospital that I was coming. But the doctor told me to first go home, shower, pack a bag and then go to the hospital. I called my mother while we were still in the office, she lives in Boston with my stepdad, and they drove in right away.

It was a long process. I got to the hospital Wednesday afternoon, and delivered Friday going into Shabbos.

My body really wasn’t ready, so a lot of painful things had to be done. I had an amazing frum nurse, who I am still in touch with today. Zehava Farbman, a grief goddess was in the delivery room with us and helped us out with the situation. For example, should we hold the baby or not. I did hold her; my husband and mother also did. Then everyone left so my husband and I could have our privacy. Nothing was wrong with the baby; Hashem just didn’t want her with us. It took us a long time to be okay with that.

I remember that you came over after with an omelet with vegetables. A lot of people did great things, and some people did horrendous things. One person sat on the couch and told me how fast all of her deliveries were. Obviously, when someone is saying these things and your grieving, that’s inappropriate.

 Some people are just afraid, they don’t know what to say. But it’s important to acknowledge when someone goes through something. Asking them how you can help them, texting them without expecting a text back, and just being there for them and providing them with support.

When my sister-in-law came back from Israel, she was the first person to ask me who the baby looked like. I burst into tears and told her thank you so much for asking that because she was a baby who was going to join the family. Everyone wants something different when they are going through something, so it’s tough to know what to do and what to say or not to say, but you have to at least try your best.

 

Gila Glassberg, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, holding an inclusive variety of foods
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Gila Glassberg is a Master's level registered dietitian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. As a teenager, she was faced with constant diet talk, body shaming and obsessive guilt around food. She struggled with disordered eating. This is what propelled her into the field of nutrition. She uses a non-diet, weight-neutral approach called Intuitive Eating. She helps growth oriented women break out of chronic dieting, and regain clarity into what is really important to them.

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