ELIZABETH VALENZUELA `17
On Friday, Nov. 21, Hillel’s 9th Annual Pink Shabbat took place to raise awareness about breast cancer.
The event was held in Hamlin Hall, which was beautifully decorated in pink and white for the event. T-shirts were sold at the door, with all proceeds going to Sharshareet, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the unique concerns of Jewish women with breast cancer. The Quirks, Trinity’s all-women a capella group, opened the event by singing “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys and “Come Talk to Me.” Afterwards, the Shabbat service began.
In the Jewish faith, Shabbat is a day of rest and spiritual enchantment. It began with the candle lighting ritual and was followed by the blessings over the grape juice and challah. Pink challah was made by the Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters and Lisa Kassow, Director of Hillel, in honor of the event. Each person touched the challah or touched a person touching the challah to receive this blessing.
Ali Chalfin ’16, social chair of Hillel, led the Dvar Torah, or “words of the Torah.” She began by telling the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, who were the children of Isaac and Rebekah. They were twins who fought for dominance, even in the womb. Because their father favored Esau, Jacob felt jealous of him and tricked him into selling him his birthright.
Chaflin shared that she has a family friend who is a twin and was diagnosed with breast cancer. She wondered why one twin developed cancer but the other did not. The story of Jacob and Esau made her reflect on the unfair nature of life and the way that God gives us the strength to go on. After the Dvar Torah, Ethan Cantor, Hillel’s president, introduced keynote speaker Lisa Kassow. In his opinion, cancer is a war and its survivors are warriors.
Lisa herself conquered cancer five years ago. She was diagnosed days before the Pink Shabbat that took place that year. She felt afraid and overwhelmed but remained strong for others. She said that the experience taught her a lot about herself and that she is lucky to be cancer-free today.
Lisa also spoke about her friend Tammy, who recently passed away because of ovarian cancer. She described her as an energetic woman who made her mark on all who knew her. According to Lisa, drugs made to combat cancer typically take twenty years to create, two and a half billion dollars to fund and have a 99.5% failure rate, meaning that the odds are not great.
Lisa asked that those in attendance remember her and her friend Tammy when we are in positions of power. The message of her speech was that it’s on us to keep the fight against breast cancer going. Lisa hopes for a day in which no more families suffer because of breast cancer or ny other form of cancer. She ended her speech by asking that we use our potential to make a difference.
Before dinner was served, Pink Shabbat participants were asked to write the names of people they know who have been victims of breast cancer. These pink slips were made into a long chain, proving the pervasiveness of this disease. A Thanksgiving dinner was followed by dessert, which consisted of cupcakes topped with pink frosting.
As everyone breaks for Thanksgiving, let each person express gratitude for those in his or her life who have survived cancer, remember those who have lost the battle and remain hopeful that a cure may be found in the near future.