Elizabeth Valenzuela ’17, Contributing Writer
As part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Hillel, Trinity’s Jewish organization, had its 8th Annual Pink Shabbat on Friday, October 25. This program is a traditional Shabbat service that places an emphasis on breast cancer awareness. Pink Shabbat was begun eight years by Trinity student Molly Goodman. Since then, it has become a Hillel tradition that brings many students together for a special dinner.
Lisa Kassow, director of Hillel, shares how this event has become more and more meaningful to her as the years have passed. She is deeply gratified to see the amount of students who come together for a cause. This program is especially important to her because her mother is a breast cancer survivor and she is a breast cancer survivor. Lisa thinks that it is wonderful that Trinity students want to participate in Shabbat, “a particularly Jewish experience.” She also applauds the Hillel students who invited their peers to share this experience with them.
Pink Shabbat was held in Hamlin Hall, which was beautifully decorated in pink. Bright pink t-shirts were sold at the door, with all proceeds going to Sharsheret, a national organization of Jewish breast cancer survivors. About one hundred and fifty students attended the event. Sophie Katzman, co-president of Hillel and chair of Pink Shabbat, welcomed everyone. She shared how breast cancer affects Jewish women in particular. The rate of Ashkenazi Jewish women, or those of Eastern European descent, who are diagnosed with breast cancer is ten times higher than the rate of the national population. This is a frightening reality to Jewish women, which is why breast cancer research is so important.
According to Sophie, the purpose of Pink Shabbat was to engage Trinity students in this important cause. Engagement in issues is part of the Jewish principle Tikkun Olam, which means “healing the world.” It is a tradition deep within Judaism that calls Jewish people to serve others and pursue social justice. After welcoming students, Sophie introduced the Quirks, who sang a beautiful interpretation of “Never Let You Go” by Jakaranda.
First-year student Zach Bitan led the candle lighting ritual. Participants followed along in Hebrew. The blessings on the grape juice and challah followed. Pink ribbon-shaped challah were prepared by Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters. Each person touched the challah or touched a person touching the challah for this blessing.
Sophomore David Linden led the Dvar Torah, or “words of the Torah.” He began by asking for those who have been affected by breast cancer to raise their hands. Surprisingly, almost every hand went up. He shared a personal story about how breast cancer affected his family in 2010. He urged everyone to enjoy life, because it is fleeting.
Breast cancer survivor Rachel Marcus spoke next. She shared her own experience with breast cancer, a disease she was diagnosed with after “fifty years of believing that life was grand.” Although her doctors told her that the lump on her breast was not cancerous, she persisted and her diagnosis was eventually confirmed. According to Rachel, the support of her friends and family throughout her diagnosis and chemotherapy motivated her and gave her strength. Fortunately, she is now cancer-free. She urged all women in the crowd to have regular mammograms and trust their instincts. Lisa Kassow believes that her positive attitude is extraordinary and that she is a woman who sparkles with life, energy and gratitude.
Pink Shabbat participants made a chain of the names of the people they know who have been victims of breast cancer. According to Lisa Kassow, “This chain is meant to be an extending community of people we care about.” Dinner and dessert were served shortly after. In keeping with the theme, the cupcakes were, of course, pink.