AEPhi members decorating cupcakes at Maryland Hillel on March 1, 2020. All proceeds went to Sharsheret. Lisa Woolfson/Mitzpeh.

By Lisa Woolfson
Staff writer

If you had walked through the doors of Hillel at lunchtime last Sunday, you would have passed through a sea of white sweatshirts with cupcakes printed on them. If you walked further into the building, you would have seen tables full of plain cupcakes and different colored frostings and toppings just waiting to be decorated.

Alpha Epsilon Phi hosted their annual “Cupcake Wars” philanthropy event. The event cost $5 and attendees could either participate in a multi-round cupcake decorating contest or just watch their friends do it. All proceeds of the event went to Sharsheret, a non-profit that helps Jewish women with breast and ovarian cancer.

During the event, Stacey Borenkoff, a mother of one of the sorority members, gave a speech about her own experience as a Jewish woman who chose to get a double mastectomy. She spoke about the BRCA gene, which has a higher presence in Ashkenazi Jewish women, and said she made the right choice all those years ago.

“No one has a road to choose if you don’t have knowledge” she emphasized to the participants.

Greta Scott from KD puts the finishing touches on her cupcake before the round ends at Cupcake Wars. Lisa Woolfson/Mitzpeh.

Talia Orencel, the director of engagement and social justice at Maryland Hillel, has been working with AEPhi on “Cupcake Wars” since she started working there five years ago. “They do it here at Hillel because […] their costs are lower so they can get more money for the proceeds” she said.

This event was open to everyone, but most of the participants were from Jewish Greek life organizations including Sigma Delta Tau and Zeta Beta Tau among others. The event had three different rounds where participants were split up into teams by either Greek life organization, year in school or both.

The rounds had themes such as holidays, which resulted in a Christmas tree-shaped cupcake presentation, and an animal theme which resulted in one team recreating Testudo out of cupcakes. After each round, judges walked from table to table to look at all of the decorations and declare a winner.

Tess Frisman, a freshman communications major, was not on any team but was happy to be there with her sorority. “I’m excited to see people compete with each other and make cool cupcakes,” she said.

But decorating cupcakes wasn’t the only thing to do at this event. In the entrance of Hillel there was a clothing drive with shirts, pants, shorts and more for sale. The drive was another push to fundraise for Sharsheret.

Natalie O’Connor, a freshman psychology major who participated in the cupcake decorating challenge, said “it’s really just about supporting our other sisters, mothers, cousins, aunts, so it’s really important to show support for everyone that we love.”

For another quick break from cupcakes, attendants could stop by a photo booth set up in Hillel. All of the activity areas were busy throughout the event.

After the three rounds of decorating cupcakes, it was time for the AEPhi raffle, yet another way to raise money for Sharsheret. Items ranging from clothing pieces to LuluLemon gift cards and more were raffled off.


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