By Nira Dayanim 


Features Editor

The homepage for Kanefsky’s “Coast to Coast” Sharsheret fundraiser. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)

Kedma, this university’s Orthodox Jewish community, celebrated its 6th annual Pink Shabbat for breast cancer awareness with Sharsheret on Oct. 9. 

Sharsheret is a non-profit organization that provides support to Jewish women with breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Ashkenazi Jews are predisposed to the BRCA gene mutation, which puts women at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, and Sharsheret provides resources and educational outreach for women battling breast cancer. Sharsheret also creates a network for Jewish women to fall back on when fighting cancer.

Kedma’s Pink Shabbat included a community-wide Friday night dinner sponsored by Hillel, as well as “Cupcake Wars,” a cupcake decorating competition and fundraiser for Sharsheret. Over 200 people attended the dinner and over 80 people participated in Cupcake Wars. 

Daniella Bloch, a senior public health science major and Kedma’s Shabbat Chair, is responsible for organizing several weekend events for the community, including Pink Shabbat.

Bloch says Pink Shabbat is an important opportunity for educating young women about breast cancer. By raising awareness, Sharsheret helps women build healthy habits, learn more about their family history and get genetic testing while they’re young.

“In public health we talk a lot about prevention and education. There’s no way to stop cancer but there are habits that are associated with reducing your risk of cancer, especially if your family knows that they have an increased risk,” she said.  

According to several students, a highlight of the weekend was a speech given at Friday night dinner by Yakir Kanefsky, a sophomore psychology major. 

Kanefsky discussed his mother’s battle with breast cancer before he was born, and how she got involved with Sharsheret in the process. Kanefsky’s mother’s story inspired him to partner with Sharsheret for a month-long fundraiser this October, which is breast cancer awareness month. 

Kanefsky’s “Coast to Coast” fundraiser is an athletic fundraiser where sponsors donate to Sharsheret based on the number of miles a participant completes. The fundraiser has already raised over $10,000, but Kanefsky’s goal is that 2,600 miles will be completed — the distance between College Park and Los Angeles, his hometown. 

“I thought this fundraiser would mean a lot to her and other women in my community back home,” he said.

Kanefsky said he wanted his fundraiser to evoke the same feeling of connectedness that Sharsheret, which means “chain” in Hebrew, fosters. 

“Ultimately a big part of this fundraiser was to prove to myself and others that when people come together it can make an even bigger impact,” he said. 

According to Kanefsky, his friends and peers have rallied behind him to share his fundraiser and message with others. Ian Welfeld, a sophomore civil engineering major who attended Pink Shabbat, found Kanefsky’s speech and the goal of his fundraiser inspiring. 

“Sharing the story of what his mother went through, especially at such a young age, kind of opened my eyes to how breast cancer can affect people,” Welfeld said.

According to Bloch, though Pink Shabbat addressed serious and sobering topics, the community’s reaction was comforting. 

“It’s beautiful to see that we have these kinds of resources and to see that we are part of a community that values helping each other. Even during isolating times you don’t have to be on your own because there are support systems in place,” Bloch said.


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