Christo­pher El­liott

Pikesville so­cial worker who ex­plored his Jewish faith was known for com­pas­sion in coun­sel­ing teenagers

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Colin Camp­bell Bal­ti­more Sun reporter Jac­ques Kelly con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. cm­camp­bell@balt­

Christo­pher Moshe El­liott, a Pikesville ther­a­pist who spe­cial­ized in treat­ing teenagers and was heav­ily in­flu­enced by his Jewish faith, died in a bi­cy­cle ac­ci­dent in Up­perco on Aug. 26. The fa­ther of two was 42.

His fa­ther, Michael El­liott, said Mr. El­liott was cy­cling and struck a stopped pickup truck at an in­ter­sec­tion. “His vi­sion was ob­scured by a ma­ture corn­field,” his fa­ther said.

Mr. El­liott had an in­for­mal, re­laxed de­meanor with pa­tients, which helped him get through to younger clients, said Dr. Frank Gun­zburg, a psy­chol­o­gist who was Mr. El­liott’s land­lord for about seven years at the Bed­ford Av­enue of­fice build­ing where he prac­ticed.

“He did a lot of work with teenagers,” Dr. Gun­zburg said. “They didn’t feel like they were com­ing in deal­ing with an au­thor­ity fig­ure. He was more like an older brother — pro­fes­sional, but more on the open and re­laxed end.”

Some­times, if a young pa­tient was hav­ing a dif­fi­cult ther­apy ses­sion, Mr. El­liott would take him or her out­side for a walk or to drib­ble a bas­ket­ball, Dr. Gun­zburg said.

Mr. El­liott spe­cial­ized in treat­ing “ad­dic­tions, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and trauma with chil­dren, ado­les­cents, fam­i­lies and adults,” ac­cord­ing to his pro­file on the web­site Psy­chol­ogy To­day. He was a li­censed clin­i­cal so­cial worker.

“My be­lief,” he wrote on the site, “is that we are in­her­ently good and want to cre­ate so­lu­tions that work for us. When those so­lu­tions no longer serve us we have the op­por­tu­nity to re-cre­ate our lives to re­dis­cover our in­her­ent sense of joy through the ther­a­peu­tic process.”

Mr. El­liott’s deep spir­i­tu­al­ity was ev­i­dent in his work and his in­ter­ac­tions, Dr. Gun­zburg said.

“He was al­ways think­ing about the greater good and im­pact of things in his life,” he said. “He touched a lot of lives.”

He went by the Jewish name Moshe, af­ter the prophet Moses, said his long­time men­tor, Rabbi Shlomo Porter, pres­i­dent of Etz Chaim Cen­ter for Jewish Liv­ing and Learn­ing in North­west Bal­ti­more.

Mr. El­liott, who was born in Tow­son and raised on St. Dun­stan’s Road in Go­vans, was born a Jew but raised in a Chris­tian house­hold.

He at­tended McDonogh School and was a 1992 grad­u­ate of Calvert Hall Col­lege High School in Tow­son, where he was wrestler and played soc­cer.

He re­ceived a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from Ly­coming Col­lege in Williamsport, Pa., and a master’s de­gree in so­cial work from Yeshiva Uni­ver­sity in New York.

“He knew how to be a friend to ev­ery­one,” said his fa­ther. “He at­tacked life and he didn’t hold back.”

Around age 20, he be­gan search­ing for his Jewish roots, said Rabbi Porter.

“With the sup­port of his fam­ily, he went to Is­rael and be­came a very spir­i­tual Jew who con­tin­ued his growth into his spir­i­tu­al­ity un­til his un­timely death,” the rabbi said.

He vis­ited the Jewish learn­ing cen­ter reg­u­larly and be­came close with Rabbi Porter, who de­scribed Mr. El­liott as be­ing “like my son.”

“El­liott was like a light bulb, vi­brant, full of joy and al­ways ex­ud­ing his warmth to others,” said Rabbi Porter.

“He was a real per­son, no fa­cade, al­ways look­ing to make him­self into a bet­ter per­son,” he said. “And he was very car­ing, when it came to his feel­ings. He chose his field of pro­fes­sion be­cause he could help peo­ple and he was a very loving fa­ther to his daugh­ters.”

Fam­ily mem­bers said Mr. El­liott en­joyed the out­doors and hiked in wooded ar­eas. He was a na­ture lover and gar­den­ing. “He could talk to any­body. Peo­ple trusted him. He truly wanted to help those who were in cri­sis,” said his sis­ter, Lu­cie Tat­ter­sall of Dun­dalk.

“I was his baby sis­ter and I wor­shipped the ground he walked on,” she said.

Ser­vices were held Aug. 31 at Sol Levin­son and Bros.

In ad­di­tion to his fa­ther, a re­tired ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive, and a sis­ter, sur­vivors in­clude his two daugh­ters, Odelia El­liott of Mount Wash­ing­ton and Sophia El­liott, of Del­ray Beach, Fla.; his mother, the for­mer Susan K. Smu­lian of Hous­ton, Texas; his step­mother, Cindy El­liott of Bal­ti­more; and his grand­mother, Fa­tima El­liott of An­napo­lis. His mar­riages to Rachel Kraft El­liott and Kena Rohi “Raquel” Custage ended in di­vorce. Christo­pher Moshe El­liott was a Pikesville ther­a­pist.

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