In the year 175 B.C.E., it was forbidden to practice Judaism openly. The Jewish people went to great lengths to secretly perform rituals, often times hidden in caves. People did not speak openly about their Jewish identities, that is, until a small militia of Maccabees stood up and fought the Greek army and won. That’s the two sentence history of Chanukah.
Because of the example set by the Maccabees, we are long removed from the caves and openly perform the rituals. We light our menorahs in the front windows of our homes. There are public lightings all across the country. There is tremendous media coverage of the holiday of Chanukah. Because of the strength of courageous and caring people, the course of history has changed and we can stand up and let our voices be heard.
Now for another short history lesson….For generations, it was taboo to talk about cancer in the Jewish community. Family members did not openly share their medical histories with one another. People went to great lengths to hide their diagnoses. It took remarkable efforts to undergo surgery and treatment undetected by the larger community. People were worried about the repercussions of speaking openly about a cancer diagnosis or increased genetic risk of being diagnosed with cancer.
Because of Sharsheret Jewish women and their families who are affected by a cancer diagnosis now have a community that offers personalized support from other women further down the road who understand what they may be going through.
Because of Sharsheret the Jewish community has access to vital information about hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. We hear from many women who engage in open dialogue with their loved ones about their increased family risks.
Because of Sharsheret the media is talking about the increased risk of carrying the BRCA mutation in individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Sharsheret has often been featured in the media shining a spotlight on the unique issues of young Jewish women facing cancer.
Because of Sharsheret women and men, teens and adults, are raising their voices and engaging in conversations and participating in events that empower us as a community to take action and protect our future.
And once again…Because of the strength of courageous and caring people, the course of history has changed and we can stand up and let our voices be heard.