Hello, my name is Lieba Swartz-Brownstein and here is a glimpse of my story.
When I was in high school, I had a life-changing conversation with a friend of mine. We were in class, in my hometown of Portland, Oregon at the time. I had noticed that my friend had some odd behaviors around food and exercise, but I never really thought anything of it. She was tall, thin, and in many ways seemed like a average high school kid.
One afternoon towards the end of class, we both needed to use the restroom, so we walked down to the basement together and got in to a casual, teenage conversation about body image. It was pretty classic and standard—until things got weird, really weird. She started to confide in me about the fact that she had been purging (inducing vomiting) in order to gain control and to maintain her thin figure. I was so confused by this whole idea; in terms of diet and weight, I had only learned about in the most textbook standpoint. I didn't understand why she couldn't just eat salad and I even remember asking her that. I didn't understand why she needed to induce vomit in order to gain control. Within minutes my friend started to go in detail describing her purging behaviors. She began to show me with her body how she does and she told me to go home and try it. She said it would be good for me and would help me lose some of the weight I had gained during puberty. I was 14 and so impressionable, so I believed her. I went home that night and for the first time ever I became self destructive.
The journey from that painful night to today has been a long one. But it is a journey for which I am so beyond thankful for.
Today, I am proud to say that almost ten years after that conversation in class, I am fully recovered from a debilitating eating disorder.
Because of my years of treatment, therapy, and incredibly hard work - I feel ready to give back to the world. I want to help Jewish women explore self discovery and growth. Being in treatment and being religious has not always been a simple experience. Getting kosher food, keeping Shabbat, sticking to modesty, finding times to pray — these were all very challenging at times.
I have come to the realization that being Jewish should not be an obstacle to getting treatment and that is why I have decided to open EMET.
I am graduating from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in New York City. I am learning about subjects that I am passionate about and I am excited to work on achieving my dream a little bit more every day.
One day it will be my greatest pleasure to be able to help Jewish women reach their full potential and recover from the struggles of an eating disorder, all within the values of Judaism.