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Every year on the holiday of Shavuot we celebrate receiving the Torah – a gift given to the Jewish people more than 3,000 years ago. Most of us have been the recipients of kindness and generosity by virtue of our membership in the Jewish community and we, as a people, embrace the strong value of giving back in kind.
There are many layers to the giving and receiving of gifts. Gifts can be given to mark a celebration or simply as a loving gesture. Some gifts, though offered with love and good intentions, may not meet your needs and the gift gets passed along – better known as the art of re-gifting. Sometimes, gifts are given with strings attached. And perhaps the purest form of gift-giving, are the gifts we give to ourselves.
I’ve heard some of you remark that being diagnosed with cancer has been a gift – having a second chance at life, appreciating relationships, and discovering what really feels important to you. Many of you don’t find cancer to be a gift at all. In fact, it’s a gift you would return without hesitation – with or without a refund.
Most of you fall somewhere in between. You would prefer having skipped the whole cancer thing all together, but have discovered many gifts along the way - the gift of loving kindness, the gift of insight, and the gift of life.
In the hub of Sharsheret, I have witnessed tremendous and meaningful exchanges of gifts - words of wisdom passed along from women further down the road to those newly diagnosed. I have seen the selfless donations of time and money to support women and their families living with cancer.
Without a doubt, there are strings attached to cancer – but once untangled, most of you have given yourselves the greatest gifts of all. You have discovered inner strength, you have established a greater balance in your lives, and you hold a deeper appreciation of life and love. And when these gifts were sometimes hard to find, you reached out to Sharsheret and opened yourselves up to receiving the support and guidance of our community.
I hope on this holiday of Shavuot, you kick up your feet, grab yourself a nice piece of cheesecake, and take a moment to unwrap all the wondrous gifts in your lives.
© 2013 Sharsheret: Your Jewish Community Facing Breast Cancer
Sharsheret is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization ID# 13-4198529
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