The KAVANA Podcast with Melinda Strauss

Melinda Strauss

Welcome to the KAVANA Podcast. KAVANA is the Hebrew word for conscious intentionality. This concept in Judaism teaches us to focus on completing our actions, tasks, and mitzvot (good deeds) with intention. Yes, we could all go through life by simply doing out of obligation, but what if we could do more? What if we could act consciously, love with passion, give with purpose, share because we can and not because we have to? What if we could learn to love ourselves more? It all begins with YOU.

All Episodes

Libby Walker is known for her parodies on TikTok, most famously as the hilarious Jewish mom Sheryl Cohen (inspired by her own mother). Libby is a comedian and proud Jewish woman who bares it all on social media, using laughter to spread positivity. I am so inspired by Libby's grit, her ability to adapt, and how she gives so much of herself to help others.  Libby shares her own original content and also works with tons of companies on TikTok, including Aish, Hillel International, Birthright, and Lost Tribe, the new cool Jewish hub modeled after Bar Stool to create Jewish fun and relatable content.  Libby recently started her own podcast, Jewish Mom Approved, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube: Follow Libby on TikTok and join her 20K+ followers: Check out Lost Tribe on TikTok: Follow Libby on Instagram: --- Send in a voice message:

Jun 2

28 min 39 sec

A lot has happened in my life since my last episode aired in September 2020. Let's just say a global pandemic, a Presidential election, and TikTok have played a huge role in my own personal growth. I wasn't sure if I was going to continue sharing on the podcast until some really awesome humans reminded me that what I do here is special. Highlighting Jewish people living intentional lives, giving them a platform, and giving the listener the opportunity to learn and be inspired is amazing! I won't ever take that for granted. To those of you who reached out asking me to keep going, I want to say a BIG thank you. You know who you are and because of you, I'm back!  --- Send in a voice message:

May 4

25 min 25 sec

Esty, the founder of I Don't Cook But I Give Out Recipes, one of the most popular kosher food Facebook groups with over 45,000 members, talks about how she started her group and her love for the community she has built. We also talk a lot about parenting! Esty runs a blog and Instagram account, @cookingwithtantrums, and shows us all what it's like to be a real parent with lots of kids, lots of cooking to do, and lots of forgiveness. And if you don't know what #weallpoop means, you haven't listened to the podcast yet 😂  A few places you can find Esty:  I Don't Cook But I Give Out Recipes on Facebook @Cookingwithtantrums on Instagram Easy Does it with Esty Wolbe on --- Send in a voice message:

Sep 2020

38 min 58 sec

We literally could not stop at just one topic! Breezy and I have been friends for many years and this interview went in so many different directions that I can actually say this podcast is for EVERYONE! Breezy, the owner and designer behind clothing line Love and Laughter and owner of Breezy's Gifts, shares about her entrepreneurial spirit and what drives her, but we also spent some time discussing her abusive marriage and how she healed and found herself again.  Find Breezy on Instagram at:   Shop Love and Laughter here: Listen to Breezy's interview on The Good Sign: If you would like to reach out to Shalom Task Force, please visit  If you are being abused or you even think you are being abused, please call the domestic abuse hotline 1-718-337-3700. Your call will be anonymous.    --- Send in a voice message:

Mar 2020

47 min 25 sec

Hop on the soul train with KK (also known as Karen Koren, but really everyone calls her KK and you'll hear why)!!! KK is a public speaker, kallah teacher, and teen mentor, who also hosts her own podcast,  Soul Sessions.  In this episode, KK and I discuss everything from the way her upbringing helped shape her as a strong spiritual woman to her daughters diagnosis with alopecia.   Listen to Soul Sessions with KK: Check out KK on Instagram: --- Send in a voice message:

Feb 2020

50 min 35 sec

Heather Cox, Co-Founder and President of Certify My Company, is someone who continues to reinvent herself as her passions grow! Heather decided to become an entrepreneur at 30 years old and shares some incredible insight on how she started her business and how she found herself. Certify My Company assists diverse businesses with all aspects of certification, helps to increase their visibility in supplier markets, and connects certified businesses with the corporations eager to do business with them. If you want to know more about what all of that means (I had no idea certification for diverse businesses even existed!), you definitely want to listen to this interview because Heather is changing the world as an advocate for diversity!   Fun fact about Heather (and you'll hear more about it on the podcast): She is a former acro-gymnast, tightrope walker and juggler! Check out Heather on Instagram at To learn more about Certify My Company or see if your business can get certified, check out --- Send in a voice message:

Feb 2020

47 min 49 sec

Rivky Itzkowitz is the designer and owner of Impact Fashion NYC, a luxe modest fashion line cut to fit real body shapes. Rivky's dresses run from sizes 2-24 and they are absolutely gorgeous!!! What inspires me most about Rivky is that she is hustling to build the life and business of her dreams. Whether she's sewing wedding dresses in the back of the classroom or building her own business from the ground up, Rivky doesn't make excuses. I can't wait for you to listen to Rivky and get inspired to go after your own dreams!  Check out Rivky on Instagram: Shop Impact Fashion: --- Send in a voice message:

Jan 2020

46 min 33 sec

Welcome back to season 2 of the KAVANA Podcast!! Today, I'm sharing the story of my diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes. I was 18 years old, a freshman in college, and living away from home in NYC. Perfect time for diabetes to enter my life, right?!?!?  If you enjoy this podcast, please leave a review on iTunes and let me know how much you love it!  --- Send in a voice message:

Jan 2020

27 min 18 sec

I like to think of Sam Adler as the kitchen dancing queen of Instagram and my Backstreet Boys sister, but she is so much more than that! Sam is also an incredibly talented food stylist, photographer, and baker who has turned her talent into a thriving business. She is currently teaching a food styling mastermind, running her food photography business, and sharing beautiful and original recipes on her blog, One thing you will always get from Sam is honesty and she shares it all right here in this episode! Investing in yourself is how you grow, whether it's in your business or in your personal growth, and I can't wait for you to get inspired by what you hear! Follow Sam on Instagram: --- Send in a voice message:

Dec 2019

36 min 38 sec

It was a true honor to sit down with Sarri Singer for this interview. Until 9/11, Sarri worked a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. Deeply moved by the tragedy of 9/11, Sarri decided to resign from her position in December 2001 and move to Israel to help victims of terror. On June 11, 2003, Sarri was on Bus 14 in Jerusalem when an 18 year old Palestinian terrorist dressed as a religious Jew boarded and blew himself up. 16 people were killed, including all those seated and standing around her, and over 100 people were injured. Sarri was hospitalized for two weeks and then returned to New Jersey to be with family. Her story became high profile. She appeared on television stations such as CBS, FoxNews, CNN and radio interviews. She spoke before Congressmen and Senators in Washington, D.C. and politicians in New York and New Jersey. In September 2003 she returned to work and volunteering in Israel. In June 2004, she returned to the United States to take care of ongoing medical issues associated with her attack. Sarri is the Founder and Director of Strength to Strength (, which focuses on bringing together victims of terrorism together from around the world and assisting with long term psychological needs. Sarri has addressed audiences throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and Israel and continues to share her unique insight into the ongoing struggle for victims of terror in Israel and around the world. Sarri is currently the Director of Career Services at the Lander College for Women, A Division of Touro College and working on her Master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies at Rutgers University. Fun Fact about Sarri: two and half years ago, a good friend forced her to run with her in the Miami half marathon and she's found that she loves running, especially in the mornings. It's her downtime to think and try and get some clarity.  Find out more about Strength to Strength: Sarri on Instagram: Sarri on Facebook: Sarri on Twitter: Follow Strength to Strength on Instagram: Follow Strength to Strength on Twitter: --- Send in a voice message:

Dec 2019

42 min 9 sec

Yaffa Palti smile can light up the world! And when she speaks, she exudes passion, wisdom, and even a little silliness! That's what I love about Yaffa. She has the ability to take life seriously but also be playful at the same time. And on this weeks episode of the KAVANA Podcast, Yaffa tells us the story of her journey to loving herself and appreciate this life that was gifted to her, as life has been gifted to all of us.  Fun fact about Yaffa: Yaffa delivered all of her babies without an epidural but is afraid to pop a balloon!  Follow Yaffa on Instagram:   --- Send in a voice message:

Nov 2019

39 min 12 sec

Stephanie Pollak is one of the most inspiring women I know! We recently became fast friends because of our shared love of motivating others to take responsibility for their own lives and I am so grateful that she took the time to come on the KAVANA Podcast to share her story! I don't want to share too much with you here because the interview says it all. If you are feeling stuck or caged in your life, if you are choosing everyone over yourself, if you feel like you can't get out of bed today, listen to what Stephanie has to say! After you listen to this episode, click here for Stephanie's Mic Drop: Follow Stephanie on Instagram:   --- Send in a voice message:

Nov 2019

49 min 27 sec

FINALLY! I finally got the chance to turn the table on Naomi Nachman and interview her for a change. Naomi has interviewed me on her radio show, Table For Two on the Nachum Segal Network more times than I can count and it's always a blast! She is a personal chef, cookbook author, food blogger, influencer, travel junkie, the queen of Kosher Chopped competitions, the master of networking, and an amazing friend.  Fun Fact about Naomi: Naomi used to dislike dogs but now she loves them and is even considering rescuing one! My dog, Louie, is to thank for that transformation and I'm so proud.  Follow Naomi on Instagram for all of her escapades: Check out Naomi's website for everything you need to know about her and tons of great recipes (including my favorite pizza dough): --- Send in a voice message:

Nov 2019

38 min 21 sec

What a treat to interview Sara Younger, the incredibly energetic, colorful, and creative party motivator behind Playland Parties. Sara has many strengths but I think her greatest gift is being able to figure things out as she goes. No matter what her circumstances, she finds a way. No is just not an option!  Google is Sara's best friend because seriously, people, you can learn everything you need to know about starting a business on Google. If you're feeling stuck and you're not sure how to get out of your current space, get ready for the inspiration and tools you need to make it happen!  Fun Fact about Sara: the wallpaper in her office is actually made out of plastic tablecloths!  Follow Sara on Instagram: Check out Sara's new YouTube Channel: For more information on how to hire Sara for your next party, go to her website:    --- Send in a voice message:

Oct 2019

29 min 59 sec

What a joy to sit down with Beth Warren, the founder and chief executive officer of Beth Warren Nutrition, LLC, a New York-based private practice, and someone I'm lucky enough to call my friend. Beth and I have known each other since our college days (let's just pretend that was only a few years ago) and I am so proud of her continued growth! Beth is the author of two books, Living A Real Life with Real Food (Skyhorse 2014) and Secrets of a Kosher Girl (Post Hill Press 2018). Beth has been sharing her kosher expertise and practical approach to healthy living for years and I am grateful for the opportunity to share her wisdom and passion on the KAVANA Podcast.  If you want to hear more from Beth live on stage, click here to buy your tickets to the KAVANA Conference on December 15th: Fun Fact about Beth: Congratulations are in order! Beth just gave birth to her 6th child, a baby girl!  Follow Beth on Instagram: Check out Beth's website: --- Send in a voice message:

Oct 2019

33 min 14 sec

I had the pleasure of hanging out this week with licensed therapist, educator, and friend, Rachel Tuchman, to talk about her mission! Just like her Instagram profile says, Rachel is opening minds and smashing stigmas every day and she hopes you hear something today that changes your mindset on mental health and the image you hold of yourself.   Fun Fact about Rachel: Her great uncle is the famous Russian pianist, Emil Gilels. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of all time. Rachel's mom's whole side is made up of famous classical musicians (her cousin leads the Moscow state Symphony Orchestra). Rachel may not have any musical talent BUT she says she inherited her drive and determination from them. Follow Rachel on Instagram for daily insights and motivation: --- Send in a voice message:

Oct 2019

33 min 35 sec

I'm excited for you to meet my fitness coach, Inna Koppel! Inna began her career as a personal trainer, and in that role discovered the importance of strength as the foundation of fitness. She began her own barbell training, studying and practicing basic barbell movements. This path led her to the Starting Strength method of barbell training and to the success of her gym, Woodmere Fitness Club, which boasts high-energy classes and barbell training for women. Inna has taught me that barbell isn't just about lifting or squatting a heavy bar. It's about fighting through my fears, finding my own strength, and being part of a community of empowering women who cheer each other on.  Fun fact about Inna: She danced under the strict tutelage of a Russian Ballet teacher from the time that she was 5 years old until she was 17. When Inna immigrated to the US, her parents signed her for 4 hours of ballet a day to keep me her off the streets.  Follow Woodmere Fitness Club on Instagram: Check out Woodmere Fitness Club and find out more about classes, barbell, and the WFC team here: I took part in my first strength lifting competition this year with WFC to raise money for Ruff House Rescue, the most amazing animal rescue in Long Island and the place where I found my sweet pup, Louie. Inna is so passionate about rescue and has 3 dogs of her own. Clearly we are dog people...check out this video about Deadlift for Dogs and some shots of me deadlifting 190 pounds!!!  If you're wondering what Starting Strength is, here's the website with more information: --- Send in a voice message:

Sep 2019

33 min 2 sec

Real Talk: Today's podcast is all about loving yourself! No interview, no script (oh, there's never a script), just a whole lot of my heart. Can you tell me something you're good at? One of your strengths? Something you're grateful for? I KNOW you can definitely tell me your weaknesses, the parts of your body you don't like, the mistakes you made today. Am I right?!? Why do we spend so much time punishing ourselves for our imperfections. Why do we feel guilt, shame, and embarrassment for the things we're not good at? What if we could be grateful and celebrate the things we're awesome at instead? Listen up because we ALL have something to learn about loving ourselves more.  After you listen to this episode, head on over to Instagram and find me @therealmelindastrauss to send me that screenshot! I can't wait to connect and celebrate YOU!  If you loved this episode, let me know! You can leave me a review and a 5 star rating because I'm just that awesome. Oh, and do me a solid and share this podcast with your girlfriends, your sisters, your mom. We all deserve to grow and we all deserve to love ourselves more!  --- Send in a voice message:

Sep 2019

25 min 46 sec

Nikki Schreiber is the founder and owner of Humans of Judaism. What started as a project to honor her late father, who passed away suddenly in November 2013, now has 150,000 followers on Instagram and 150,000 on Facebook, and has been named one of the top 10 best Jewish Instagram accounts. Nikki shares with us how she successfully finds the time to wear so many business hats, how she creates authentic content on social media, and talks about the friendships she's made through Humans of Judaism.   Fun fact about Nikki: Her mother’s mother was born in the old city of Jerusalem, she was given her name ‘Miriam’ in the Hurva synagogue. Nikki's family lived in the old city for 7 generations and moved to New York in the early 1900’s. Follow Humans of Judaism on Instagram: Check out Humans of Judaism website: --- Send in a voice message:

Sep 2019

38 min 16 sec

Sometimes you make an unexpected friend through Instagram and it just CLICKS! Instant friendship! I am so excited to sit down (me hiding in my closet in NY) with Alyssa Goldwater (she's in her living room in Chicago with her new fancy wall art, pretty blue chairs, and napping children) to talk about her business journey and how she found her confidence.   Fun fact about Alyssa: She crowd surfed at a Snoop Dogg concert in college! Follow Alyssa Goldwater on Instagram - Reach out to Alyssa for digital media consulting - Listen to her podcast "The Werk Wives" - --- Send in a voice message:

Sep 2019

47 min 52 sec

Are you a Positive Patty? Maybe you're more of a Negative Nancy? What if you can find your Balanced Bari instead? I sat down with the very real and raw Bari Mitzmann to talk about embracing all that life throws her way. Bari is also the brains behind the Women of Valor Podcast, where she's created a community of woman that know life isn't perfect but we can live and love through it all!  Fun Fact about Bari:  She can sing the alphabet and Row Your Boat backwards! Follow Bari Mitzmann on Instagram - Listen to the Women of Valor Podcast: --- Send in a voice message:

Aug 2019

36 min 47 sec

What is Naomi's favorite babka flavor? How did her business get started? Who inspires her to grow? What does the S in TGIS actually stand for? I sat down with Naomi Elberg, owner of TGIS, to talk about friendships, building a business, and, of course, babka! But Naomi is more than just a challah baker and babka maker. She also does food demonstrations and business consulting and she is one talented lady! For inquiries, email   Fun Fact about Naomi:  she's run 4 half marathons and loves to parallel park!   Follow Naomi Elberg on Instagram - --- Send in a voice message:

Aug 2019

28 min 52 sec

Today I'm sitting down with Danielle Renov, founder of Peas Love & Carrots and the wildly popular Instagram account @peaslovencarrots. I have the privilege of calling Danielle a friend and when we get together, we don't just talk about food. In fact, we usually get into very deep philosophical and spiritual conversations and I'm excited for you to get a glimpse of that right here in this interview.   Fun fact about Danielle: she does NOT like to be called Daniella. Her name ends in an E, not an A. Is that a fun fact? I think it is!   Follow Danielle Renov on Instagram -  Listen to her podcast "Peas in a Pod(cast)" - --- Send in a voice message:

Aug 2019

38 min 30 sec

Welcome to the first episode of the KAVANA Podcast! I'm your host, Melinda Strauss, and I can't wait to share with you what KAVANA is all about. In this episode, you'll hear about the birth of the first ever KAVANA Conference on December 15, 2019 (SAVE THE DATE!!). You'll learn about my history and my mission for the conference. And you'll find out what's coming up next on The KAVANA Podcast!  --- Send in a voice message:

Aug 2019

19 min 21 sec