Students support Sharsheret one cupcake at a time

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By Jamie Weissman, staff writer, @JamieWeissman

Cupcake Wars

Maryland Hillel and Alpha Epsilon Phi’s Cupcake Wars in support of Sharsheret instituted a superhero-themed cupcake decorating competition. Photo courtesy of Jessie Cohen.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon at the University of Maryland Hillel when war broke out. Cupcake Wars, that is.

On Feb. 22, Hillel and Alpha Epsilon Phi joined forces to host Cupcake Wars, an event that pinned 31 teams against each other to create superhero-themed cupcakes in an effort to raise money for Sharsheret, a Jewish nonprofit that aims to support breast cancer patients and survivors through a variety of programs and services.

“I thought of the theme based on the fact that women who do reach out to Sharsheret are superheroes themselves and how we’re superheroes for being able to put on this event and raise this type of money,” sophomore journalism major Jessie Cohen, Alpha Epsilon Phi’s vice president of philanthropy, said.

“Hillel reached out to me in December and asked if we wanted to become more involved in the Jewish community,” Cohen said. “They were really amazing and helpful, Amy Weiss specifically. I told her my ideas, and she said let’s make it happen.”

The idea Cohen had was to create a spinoff of Sharsheret’s national event, Cake Wars. Traditionally, teams are given a sheet cake and told to mold the cake based on a given theme. However, for the first time at Maryland, Cohen decided to update the event, giving each member of the five-person team the opportunity to contribute to the end result.

“I’m in Delta Gamma, and we really like to participate in other sorority and fraternity philanthropy events,” sophomore criminal justice major Morgan Jaffe said. “I thought it would be fun, and I like cake, so why not?”

Armed with frosting, candy, chocolate and more, organizers split the event into two rounds, each with a different subtheme. The first round was about “saving the world” while the other featured superpowers.

“One of the teams ate all of their cupcakes and left us the wrappings and said it was the power of invisibility,” Cohen said. “Another one did the power of mind-reading and made a brain out of cupcakes and used Twizzlers to make glasses.”

Alpha Epsilon Phi’s house mom judged each round with a few of her friends by giving each creation a numerical score based on multiple categories such as cleanliness and creativity. The first place winner won a catered Shabbat dinner and candy while the second and third place winners were awarded medals.

In between rounds, New Jersey resident Melissa Rosen, a breast cancer survivor who used Sharsheret’s services, explained her story, what Sharsheret is and how the organization helped her in her time of need.

“Sharsheret was really happy with it, and they thought it was amazing,” Cohen said of the event. “It was more than I ever hoped it could be.”

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