She’s lively, spunky and has an ever-present smile. And yet, as an 18-year-old recent high school graduate, Rosie Grossbaum of Morristown, N.J., has the wisdom of someone far beyond her years, and despite the fact that she has cystic fibrosis, is one of the happiest people around.

Welcome to the radiant world of an extraordinary teen who’s able to say, “It’s OK,” whatever comes her way.

What’s All This About Cystic Fibrosis?

I won’t tell you that cystic fibrosis (CF) isn’t a big deal; it’s not something I can ignore, and it’s not going to go away. Nevertheless, I’ve had it since I was born, and I’m perfectly OK with it, even though it means I need a load of medications, therapies (morning and evening), possible hospitalizations (although fortunately, I haven’t been in hospital since I was 9) and lots of food I don’t always want to eat.

At the same time, I’m a regular teenager who’s able to do most of the things that other girls do and have a lot of fun. My health needs may be different than theirs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a great life.

As a small child, Rosie knew very little about CF. As she got older, she gradually became aware of its implications and the many ways it made her different from her peers.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease; both parents must be carriers of an abnormal gene in order to pass it on to their children. While its symptoms are not obvious to the outsider, CF impacts the body and cells that produce the liquids in the body, so that a thick mucus is found in the lungs making it an easy target for bacteria to grow there, which can cause infections.

It’s certainly not a “walk in the park,” but Rosie makes sure that it doesn’t define her. Fortunate to have been exposed to Chassidic teachings from when she was very young, she is able to apply them to everything she does and celebrates the life she’s been given with much joy and appreciation.

Looking CF in the Face

I’m not overwhelmed by the knowledge that I have a chronic condition. In years past, it was more common for people with CF to pass away at an early age, but, thank G‑d, there now are many new advancements, medications and treatments that have changed that, which is great! People with CF can live healthy and long lives.

I know I have a mitzvah to guard my health though, so I do everything I’m supposed to. I also have to exercise regularly to maintain my lung strength. I especially enjoy ballet and like to dance.

Exercise is amazing because it strengthens my lungs and fights off infections at the same time as allowing me to do something I love.

I definitely feel better when I exercise. At the height of the Covid pandemic, I wasn’t able to dance often because my immunity is low, and I had to take isolation very seriously. I felt sluggish and weak, and couldn’t wait to start dancing again.

While being vigilant about taking care of her health, Rosie realizes that her life and well-being are dependent upon G‑d. She isn’t afraid of CF because she knows her future is not in her hands. Moreover, she’s able to accept that G‑d has given her this load because He knows she can bear its weight, and she’s prepared to do whatever she can in order to prove that it’s not too heavy for her to carry.

A Pillar of Strength and Trust

Wherein lies the source of Rosie’s positivity? What enables her to embrace a life that appears to us to be fraught with uncertainties?

The answer is that for Rosie there are no negatives and no uncertainties because she is steeped in Chassidic teachings. Addressing the opening of the 2022 “Bike-4-Chai” fundraiser for Chai Lifeline and Camp Simcha as their guest speaker, she drew on the teachings of the the first Chabad Rebbe—Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, who authored the Tanya and taught about the soul and the endless power of each individual.

Every person is created with a Divine spark, a small “piece” of G‑d that gives us endless abilities. People with disabilities are often unaware that they have a piece of G‑d within them, which allows them to overcome and achieve great things. Faced with a difficult situation, a person has to realize that G‑d has given him or her infinite power to overcome it.

Addressing the camp’s supporters, Rosie—herself a camper for many years—described how the camp employs love and care to draw out this spark from children who normally feel limited by their condition. For two weeks a year, the kids know they are treasures—invaluable individuals for whom the impossible becomes possible.

The audience couldn’t get enough of the young girl with CF who was teaching them eternal lessons that they would cherish forever. Even before she had finished speaking, Rosie received a standing ovation!

It’s Not Just In Camp

Rosie’s message doesn’t end there! In aconversation with Chana Weisberg, she explains that realizing our intrinsic connection with G‑d allows us to have a calm demeanor and a contented life.

When you recognize that you actually embody G‑dliness, life takes on a whole new perspective. You’re not the one “pulling the strings,” so why get stressed out about the problems of life? Everything that happens comes from G‑d, and since He is all-good, there’s really no need to worry or fear.

Her advice applies not only to those with CF.

When people mess up, they shouldn’t view themselves as “bad” or a failure. They are a part of G‑d who loves them, who wants their good and guides them in all their actions. Of course, the person has to take responsibility for what they’ve done and make every effort to correct it, but after that they shouldn’t brood and obsess.

Tell yourself that you made a mistake? It’s OK; it happened because G‑d wanted you to make a change in your life. Now move forward!

In her own case, Rosie recognizes that when, for example, G‑d gives her bad grades in tests that she doesn’t study for, it’s a “wake-up call.” He’s letting her know He wants her to work harder.

It’s over! It’s OK! Why stress? Accept the “call” but don’t get stuck there!

A Part of Who She Is

Rosie’s weltanschauung has no concept of a Creator who punishes or causes pain. She observes that in the phrase yesh me’ayin (“something from nothing,” describing how creation was created ex nihilo), the precept me’ayin refers to G‑d’s chochma (“wisdom”). A world created through the wisdom of G‑d is, by definition, all good.

So while she acknowledges that not everything about CF is “fun,” she doesn’t regard her sickness as bad. In fact, she never feels angry or upset about her condition. She has been created—CF and all—according to the will of G‑d, and that means that it can only be good.

I never feel angry or upset about my CF; I realize I have boundaries and accept them. All those therapies and medications and eating take up a lot of time (and don’t allow me to ever sleep-in).

As a kid, I was never able to go to real camp because they don’t have doctors on staff and stuff, so I’ve always wanted to do that and haven’t been able to.

But really, it’s OK! I don’t think I would have wanted things to be different, so I can’t describe my life as “challenging.” I was born with CF because this is what G‑d decided. It’s the way it’s meant to be and the way it should be—so, of course, I’m happy!

Let’s add to this that Rosie actually likes the fact that G‑d has chosen her to be so unique. Fitted with a feeding tube to increase her calorie intake, she used to feel self-conscious at ballet classes when others commented that there was something “weird” sticking out of her stomach. Now that she’s older (and wiser), she enjoys the fact that she doesn’t have a “plain-old stomach.” A stomach with a tube is “cool!”

Incidentally, Rosie has a very striking, natural, streak of white hair amid her otherwise blond locks, and she thinks that’s cool, too. It’s also a part of who she is and who she’s supposed to be. It’s how G‑d created her.

Anything Is Possible

CF thriver ... fun-loving schoolgirl ... ardent ballerina … admired role model ... inspirational speaker ... and, by the way, Rosie and her mother also cycled in 2022 in the Chai Lifeline Tour de Simcha, the premier women’s biking event that raises funds for Camp Simcha each year.

Rosie is living a life of fulfillment.

It comes as no surprise that one of her favorite Chassidic teachings is Ein Od Milvado—“There is only G‑d” (and nothing else, outside of Him). G‑d is Omnipotent and there is nothing a person can do without Him ... and there is nothing G‑d can’t do! In truth, there are no “limitations,” and there is nothing that cannot be changed. G‑d can make anything happen.

Even if things don’t turn out the way you want them to, why worry? Everything turns out the way it does because that’s what G‑d wants—and that’s more than OK with me!


Rosie is excited to be attending Beit Chana Seminary in Safed, Israel, this coming year. We can’t wait to see the amazing things she does with her blessed life!