West Hartford-based JTConnect held a virtual ‘Pink Shabbat’ to to support Jewish women diagnosed with breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
On Saturday, Feb. 20, over 100 teens and community members came together virtually through JTConnect’s Pink Shabbat to raise awareness for breast cancer and raise money for Sharsheret (pronounced shar-sheh-ret), a nonprofit organization with the goal of supporting Jewish women diagnosed with breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Pink Shabbat raised $750 to support Sharsheret’s efforts to provide healthcare resources, financial assistance, communal support, and educational programs to thousands of women and their families in the United States. The program was organized and led by a group of JTConnect teens. Elijah Harris (Watkinson ‘22) shared that he felt “empowered to be able to help plan and event for such a meaningful cause. I was able to connect with other Jewish community members that I do not see all the time, which was great!”
The teens invited musician Dan Nichols who helped set the intention for the night by asking, “what makes a holy community?”
Kylie Gertner (Hall ‘22), reflected: “Sharsheret makes sanctuaries, holy dwelling spaces for people affected by breast cancer, both the individuals themselves and their families. These spaces are holy because only the people who have been connected to each other through Sharsheret can fully understand the impact of the sanctuary building that Sharsheret does. By simply being here this evening, you are helping sharsheret continue their incredible work of creating these holy spaces for those who need them, and you are helping make our JTConnect community a holy space as well.”
The evening also featured breast cancer THRIVER Julie Benmosche to share her story and how Sharsheret changed her life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last year at the age of 32 and happily shared that she is now cancer free. Sharsheret provided Julie with invaluable resources and connected her with other people her age going through the same thing. Julie called these people her “breasties.”
“People don’t always know how to help,” Julie explained. Friends would encourage her to tell them what she needed. But people who made a difference were the ones who showed up and just did something, “whether it was my friend who sent me animal memes everyday or the person who mowed my lawn. … They just did things. They didn’t wait. Whenever you have someone in your life who needs that. Do something. It doesn’t matter how small … go do it, be bright and shine your light.”
Cara Levine, JTConnect’s associate program director, credits a lot of the buzz around the event to our teen leaders who have been working hard to make Pink Shabbat as successful as possible. “They are an extraordinary group of teens who have so much enthusiasm and are taking ownership over the event. The teens have such amazing ideas, like creating a Pink Shabbat box which includes goodies like pink treats, a pink havdalah set, and Sharsheret swag.”
JTConnect engages teens from across the Greater Hartford community in fun, interactive and thought-provoking educational and social experiences grounded in Jewish learning and values. JTConnect gives teens the opportunity to continue their Jewish education in compelling and meaningful ways. Together, teens examine religion, history and traditions through innovative, hands-on programming that includes classroom study, volunteer projects and special events.
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