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Make it a Pink Shabbat

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Morlie Levin is the CEO of NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation. NEXT connects Birthright Israel trip alumni and their peers with meaningful Jewish living and learning opportunities nationally, locally and in Israel. NEXT also works to create a Jewish community that is ready to receive alumni, who possess diverse needs, interests and inclinations. Register for Pink Shabbat here.

Pink is in a lot of places this month. You see it in the uniforms of football players on TV, in the clothing of those marching for a cure in your city, even in the color of the food at your local restaurants that are trying to make a difference. Wherever it may be, the pink of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a reminder of the deep impact of this disease.

In the Jewish community, we feel the impact of breast cancer—as well as ovarian cancer and other related cancers—more acutely, since Ashkenazi Jews are more likely to carry a gene mutation that increases their risk of these diseases.

That’s why this year, for the second year in a row, we wanted to empower young Jewish adults to support one another, raise awareness and educate their peers about breast cancer by creating a NEXT/ Sharsheret Pink Shabbat® experience for their friends on October 25-26.

Through a partnership between NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel and Sharsheret, a national nonprofit organization supporting Jewish families facing breast cancer, Birthright Israel alumni can register to receive NEXT’s “Shabbox”—our kit of Shabbat resources—along with special breast cancer awareness education materials from Sharsheret.

Every week, we help Birthrighters to create Shabbat experiences for their friends, their way. Some Shabbats include the reciting of traditional prayers before the cholent is served, while others might feature home-grown rituals, based on the heritage and customs of the Birthrighter hosting the experience. Whatever they may be, we know that Birthrighters crave opportunities to blend Jewish experiences with other aspects of their lives in personal and authentic ways.

This is why Pink Shabbat taps into the Jewish identity of young adults in a unique way. Birthrighters can connect to each other and come together for Shabbat around a common cause that impacts many Jews—not just women, but the families, friends and communities that surround them.

So what does a Pink Shabbat look like? What does it feel like? What does it taste like?

Ultimately, that is up to the Birthrighters who host. But Sharsheret’s resources help shape a meaningful—and even fun—Shabbat experience. Sharsheret’s booklet, Our Voices: Inspiring Words From The Women of Sharsheret offers young adults the chance to share first-hand stories with their friends. And to truly make it a pink Shabbat, Sharsheret has “pink” giveaways and its exclusive pink challah recipe.

By making this a Pink Shabbat, young Jewish adults also create an open and comfortable environment to raise awareness about their own genetic health. To this end, Birthrighters can also access Sharsheret’s Have The Talk® campaign, which encourages young adults to learn about their family cancer history and the measures they can take to help safeguard their health.

With these resources, along with a small subsidy that helps cover food for guests, young Jewish adults will continue to build communities and Jewish experiences in their vision. Already, through NEXT Shabbat, more than 7,000 Birthright Israel alumni across the country have hosted nearly 16,000 Shabbat experiences.

This month, Pink Shabbats will bring even more young adults around a Shabbat table to raise awareness, share resources, celebrate the joy of community, and most importantly, generate hope.

Photo courtesy of Sharsheret.