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Archive for : Healthcare

Monday Link Roundup

Happy Monday! We hope you had a fabulous weekend kicking through the autumn leaves and drinking hot cider (or is that just our idea of the perfect weekend)? Now, to get your day started off right, here is your weekly roundup of inspiring and thought-provoking service and social justice stories from around the web. Read on…

    • Have Fun Do Good highlighted the work of dancer Sara Potler, whose amazing organization Dance 4 Peace focuses on conflict resolution and civic education through dance in youth around the world.
    • JSpot highlighted a recent meeting of faith-based disaster and relief recovery leaders, which focused on how best to serve the low-income communities that are often hardest hit.
    • The Forward honored Evelyn Lauder (who recently passed away). The daughter-in-law of cosmetics legend Estee Lauder, Evelyn pioneered the pink ribbon that has become the leading symbol of breast cancer awareness.
    • The Huffington Post published an inspiring article by Racheal Yeager of the HERproject about empowering women to be leaders in sustainable development.

    GOOD ends things on a hopeful note with their “document hopefulness” slideshow. It’s a bit cheesy, sure, but there’s nothing wrong with a little excess hope. What are you feeling hopeful for this week? Email us.

Repair Interview: Celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month with Sharsheret

This month, pink is the new black. That’s because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a partnership of national public service organizations, medical associations, and government agencies who’ve united to promote breast cancer awareness, to share information on the disease, and to provide greater access to screening services.

This year, for the 25th anniversary of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Repair the World spoke with Elana Silber, Director of Operations for Sharsheret, a national nonprofit organization supporting Jewish women and their families facing breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2011, there will be an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer among U.S. women. Elana, took the time to tell us why Jewish women are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer (and also ovarian cancer), and how the work they’re doing on campus and elsewhere has effectively made breast cancer a Jewish issue.

How do you serve women and families facing breast cancer?
Sharsheret offers a continuum of care from every stage – for people at-risk and pre-diagnosis all the way through treatment and survivorship. In addition to programs and resources for Jewish women facing breast cancer, we also have programs for family members, educators, caregivers and healthcare professionals. [Check out the list of programs here.]

One of our main programs is our national peer support network. We match women with similar diagnoses and lifestyles from across the country to help support each other and share their experiences on a peer-to-peer level. We have a database of 1,340 peer supporters, so we can make very tailored matches. The support calls are also monitored by clinical staff who follow up with them afterward.

Are Jewish women more likely to get breast cancer than other women?
Yes, one in forty Ashkenazi women carry a mutation in their BRCA gene which increases the risk of getting breast cancer by 82% and the risk of getting ovarian cancer by 40-60%. In the general population, only one in 345 women carry that gene mutation, which means a Jewish woman’s risk for breast cancer is 10 times greater than her neighbors.

Who tends to get involved with or be supported by Sharsheret’s work?
It’s rare to find someone who hasn’t been touched by breast cancer in some way. That’s why we serve women of all backgrounds from Hasidic and ultra-orthodox Jews to secular Jews and non-Jewish women married to non-Jews and raising Jewish children. And our network of supporters and advocates includes everyone from bnai mitzvah kids to grandparents.

We also have a program for college kids called Sharshert on Campus. We work with over 100 college campuses, partnering with Hillels, Chabad houses and Jewish sororities to raise awareness about breast health and breast cancer on campus. We offer materials for students to plan a Pink Shabbat, where they host a Shabbat dinner to raise awareness. Breast cancer has really become a Jewish cause on campus – so far, we’ve been able to reach over 10,000 students.

What’s the best way for people to get involved with Sharsheret’s work.
We just launched our new website in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re really excited about it. Visiting the site and reading our blog is a great way to stay informed on what we’re up to. We have a resource page with booklets and other educational materials about breast cancer, an events section and a get-involved section with opportunities to support Sharsheret through volunteering and donations. The website is very interactive and speaks to the diverse group of people we serve.

Find out more about Sharsheret’s work and how you can get involved here.

On Yom Kippur, Service is the New Fasting

Yom Kippur, the Jewish calendar’s most sacred and solemn day, begins this Friday night. The first thing most people think about when they think about Yom Kippur is fasting. And for good reason – many Jewish people refrain from eating and drinking throughout the 25-hour holiday.

But what we sometimes forget to ask is, why do we fast? What purpose does it serve – either for our own spirituality and for the world? One of the verses we read and recite during services on Yom Kippur is a passage from Isaiah, which dives into this very question. It reads:

Is such the fast I desire a day for people to starve their bodies? Is it bowing the head like a bulrush and lying in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day when the Lord is favorable? No, this is the fast I desire: To unlock fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of the yoke to let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke. It is to share the bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to ignore your own kin.

In other words, fasting one’s body may be an important way to connect to the holiday. But the real fast that God desires is for people to work for justice: to shake up the status quo of oppression, share bread with the hungry, take the poor into our homes and clothe the naked. According to the text, these actions are the truest and most profound way to “fast.” Not eating on Yom Kippur, then, is an intense physical reminder of the type of work we should be doing all year round.

This year, take your Yom Kippur fast to a new place by committing to serve, volunteer or donate for justice. Here are some ideas to get you started – both during the high holiday season, or throughout the year.

Let the oppressed go free

  • Donate to or volunteer with Repair the World grantee-partner American Jewish World Service, another international development organization working for justice.
  • Advocate for rights and justice. Get involved with community organizing, either locally or through an organization like Repair the World grantee-partners, the Jewish Organizing Initiative and the Progressive Jewish Alliance & Jewish Funds for Justice.

Share bread with the hungry

  • Volunteer with City Harvest, a food rescue organization dedicated to feeding New York City’s hungry people.
  • Donate to Mazon, a Jewish nonprofit dedicated to preventing and alleviating hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds.
  • Donate to Hazon Yeshaya an Israel-based humanitarian network dedicated to feeding, healing and training the country’s poorest residents.
  • Check out Hazon’s Food Guide, a compilation of resources and practical ideas to help Jewish people and institutions make good, healthy food choices. (There’s a whole chapter dedicated to food justice)
  • Learn about the 2012 Farm Bill, a bill passed by congress that impacts the lives of farmers and eaters (especially people in low-income communities and people who rely on food stamps and other forms of government food assistance) across the country.

Take the poor into your home

  • Volunteer with or donate to Dorot, a Jewish Federation-supported organization which, among other services, offers safe transitional housing for Jewish seniors who are facing homelessness.
  • Donate to Coalition for the Homeless, or another advocacy and direct service organization working to help homeless men, women, and children.

Clothe the naked

  • Donate your gently used clothing to Project Machson, a Jewish federation-supported clothing center on wheels that brings new clothing directly to the poor in their neighborhoods. Or find another Jewish clothing donation organization in your neighborhood.
  • Volunteer with Dress for Success, an organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing them with professional attire and career development tools to help them thrive in the workplace.
  • Donate your next haircut to Locks of Love, and organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged kids suffering from hair loss from cancer treatments and other medical diagnoses.

The Clinton Global Initiative Promotes Worldwide Service, Leadership and Action Sept 20-22

Employment for the over 205 million unemployed, redefining consumption and girl and women’s empowerment are just some of the vast topics to be discussed next week at the The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in New York City.

Founded in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, CGI is a network of global leaders working to forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, and with a focus on global health, economic empowerment, energy & climate change, and education. The Annual Meeting, which takes place over three days –  September 20-22 – is sure to be informative as it attempts to make headway on dealing with deep economic and demographic challenges facing our planet’s 2011 projected population of 7 billion.
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Monday Link Roundup

Happy Monday and day after Father’s Day. Hopefully you spent the day relaxing with family and friends. Now, to get your week started off right, here’s your weekly dose of inspiring links from around the web.

  • The Huffington Post published a touching essay by actress Marlee Matlin about her “father’s chutzpah,” and how his cancer diagnosis a few years ago has inspired her to speak out.
  • Zeek magazine published a thought-provoking article questioning “do we still need Jewish feminism?”
  • JTA published an obituary and tribute to Yelena Bonner, a human rights activist who fought on the front lines for Soviet rights.
  • Jewschool included a post on “Chew on This” – a new food justice series co-sponsored by Pursue, Hazon, Uri L’Tzedek and other organizations, that kicked off last week. Missed the first event? Check out this interview with Nancy Romer of the Brooklyn Food Coalition on Pursue’s blog.
  • j.weekly, on a related note, published a profile on Oran Hesterman, author of the new book on food politics, Fair Food.

Get Ready for World Blood Donor Day – June 14

June 14th is World Blood Donor Day – a day dedicated to spreading the word about the important act of donating blood all year round.

According to the American Red Cross, “every minute of every day, someone needs blood” – an average of 1 out of every 7 hospital patients. Currently only 3 out of every 100 people in America give blood, which means the country’s needs are not yet being met. Jewish tradition considers pikuach nefesh (saving a life) to be one of the most important things anyone can do, and donating blood is an active way to help others in need.
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