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Archive for : sharsheret

Sharsharet Rocks Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Have you noticed an uptick in the amount of pink you’re seeing around? It’s not a coincidence – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! All around the country, people are getting involved – participating in walks, talks, and other events to get the word out about women’s health, and particularly breast health.

High up there among them, is Sharsheret – an organization dedicated to supporting Jewish women who have breast cancer, and also their families, friends, and care givers. Ashkenazi Jewish women are more likely to have the alterations to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which make them more susceptible to eventually getting breast cancer.

Sharsheret works year round to provide resources and loving networks for women facing the challenges of breast cancer. But this month, they and their partners on campuses, synagogues, and in communities are stepping it up even more, with events like Sharsheret Pink Week, Pink Shabbats, and a Rock ‘n Run awareness raising event.

Find out more about all of Sharsheret’s work – during October and throughout the year – at their website.

Repair Interview: Annie Harkavy on Volunteering with Young Hospital Patients in Israel

For more than 40 years, the WUJS Israel program has empowered post-college age men and women to live, experience, and volunteer in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Participants grow personally and professionally, while making a difference in their jobs and communities.

Over those past four decades, more than 8,000 graduates have participated in WUJS. Current WUJS participant, Annie Harkavy, took the time to talk with Repair the World about her volunteer work with children at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, and how service really runs in her family.

Can you tell me more about your background with service?
I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and our JCC was a big part of our life. My parents were also really involved with the Jewish Federation. I first got involved with volunteering and group philanthropy around my bat mitzvah. Then in college at Indiana University I was in a Jewish sorority that did a lot of work with Sharsheret, and also involved in community service in a local hospital. We would go hang out with the kids at the hospital, and throughout the year we’d hold events and invite the kids to come to campus.

How did you find the WUJS program?
My aunt actually did it 30 years ago, so that’s how I first learned about it! My mom lives in Israel now and wanted me to come do something here after college. I knew I wanted to do hands-on work and get experience and stay in the field of medicine, which I studied in college. I also knew I wanted to work with kids. This program seemed to have all of those components.

What do you do there?
I work in the children’s emergency room, and basically do anything they tell me to do! I work on the patient charts, assist when nurses are drawing blood and spend time with the kids, comforting them when they’re sad. They laugh at my Hebrew and try to teach me.

How did you get so passionate about working with children?
I have always loved helping kids. Growing up I was a camp counselor and baby sat. With kids, and especially working in a hospital, every day is different and you really feel like you’re making a tangible difference. It’s hard work, but really satisfying.

Tell me more about the experience at WUJS – what’s it like?
It brings together a group of post college-age students to come and experience living in Israel. We live together an apartment complex in South Tel Aviv, and all work in different places. We have a travel day every week, and there are many different lectures, events, and leadership trainings that we’re able to take advantage of. Even though I am not getting paid for my work this year at the hospital, I don’t think about it that way. This is my chance to make a difference. I’m hoping to stick with volunteering here once a week, even when this year is over.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: “Have The Talk” With Sharsheret

Did you know that Ashkenazi Jewish men and women are at a 10x greater risk than the general population of carrying the gene mutation that can lead to breast cancer? We didn’t either. But with October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to educate yourself – and help spread the word – about the realities of breast cancer and other related cancers.

There are lots of great national organizations dedicated to educating people about breast cancer. In the Jewish community, Sharsheret is leading the way. Particularly with their Have the Talk campaign, which encourages people to talk to family members to find out their own family cancer history, and empower others to do so as well. This month, get involved:

    • Pledge to Have the Talk.: Sign up here to pledge to find out your family’s cancer history by or before November 28, 2012.
    • Encourage friends to do the same. Every person you convince to learn their own family history is another person who is empowered to take control of their own heath.

Host a Have the Talk Day on campus. College students can host a special Have the Talk day on their campuses. Choose a date, set up a table with info from Sharsheret, decorate the table in pink (and bake some cupcakes to entice passers by!), then encourage other students to take the pledge themselves.

Find out more ways to get involved with Sharsheret’s work and spread the awareness about breast cancer here. And learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones with an Early Detection Plan here.

Celebrate Women’s History Month and Empower Women’s Health with Sharsheret

March is Women’s History Month – a month dedicated to the amazing women – from Sojourner Truth and Amelia Earhart to J.K. Rowling and Gabrielle Giffords – who have changed the shape of history in ways both large and small. We at Repair the World think Rochelle Shoretz is a great candidate to add to that list.

Rochelle is the founder of Sharsheret, an organization dedicated to serving the unique concerns of Jewish women with breast cancer. This year’s Women’s History Month theme is empowerment and education – and we couldn’t think of a better way to honor that than by highlighting Rochelle and Sharsheret’s profound work.

As the largest and most influential organization supporting young Jewish women who are facing breast cancer and their families, Sharsheret is already worthy of a mention. (On that note, check out Repair the World’s interview with staff member, Elana Silber.) But Sharsheret’s work around education, and empowering people to spread the word that breast cancer is an issue touches virtually everyone’s life, is truly amazing.

We particularly admire how they’ve rallied teens and college students in awareness raising. Here are just some of the ways:
Read more

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.