When asked about a woman who has influenced her upbringing, Shelby confidently answered her maternal grandmother, Frances Himelhoch Kabakoff.

Frances instilled in her a sense of justice, independence, and adventure from a very young age. She was the daughter of Jewish immigrants who escaped the Russian pogroms and were able to establish a five-and-dime store around the corner from the famous Stax Recording Studio (now museum) in Memphis, Tennessee. As a product of her time, Frances spent most of her young adult life as a stay-at-home mother but was still able to impact her community and those around her. On a personal level, Frances lobbied all the way to the school board so her daughter could be exempt from the home economics requirement. On a larger level, Memphis was a scene of political turmoil and unrest in the 60s. Frances served as president of our synagogue’s sisterhood, and our congregation’s rabbi, the sisterhood, and others supported the sanitation workers and Dr. King before he was assassinated.

“A famous quote from the Torah is

Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” meaning “justice, justice, you shall pursue.”

My grandmother embodied that and has instilled that in me to this today. I went to law school to pursue justice and stand up for those who need a voice, and I am happy to have accomplished that many times over in my career practicing criminal law.”

Frances also loved nature. She would spend hours in her garden and always made time to stop and smell the roses. Another teaching in Judaism is tikkun olam, which roughly means making the world a better place. As a young child, Shelby would spend hours with her grandmother in the garden, digging, weeding, and playing with bugs and worms. “In those moments, it felt so wonderful to be making beauty in the backyard, but it was then she would teach me to always be independent, that I can catch more flies with honey, and to love my family and friends fiercely. “

After college and before law school, I worked for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, traveling around the South as an education fellow. In one small Mississippi town, I met a woman who was my grandma’s age and had grown up in Memphis. When I told her that I was Frances Himelhoch’s granddaughter, she immediately remembered my grandma, laughed, and with the biggest smile, called her a “spitfire.” That’s one of my favorite ways to remember my grandma.

Frances was an activist, a loving grandmother, and a “spitfire.” For many reasons, Frances Himelhock Kabakoff is an influential person to Shelby. The lessons Frances taught her are present in Shelby’s successes in her nearly ten years of practicing law, with the majority of her career spent as a Senior Deputy State Public Defender in both the Arapahoe County Trial Office and statewide Appellate Division and, most recently as an associate at Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti. Her practice at BHGR consists of criminal defense and personal injury matters. When she’s not practicing law, she enjoys hiking, skiing, camping, and spending time outside with her family: husband, son, and rescue dog and cat.