Sharsheret Launches In Israel

Strategic Supporter of The Network Makes Exciting Announcement

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May 24, 2024

Sharsheret, the American Jewish breast and ovarian cancer nonprofit, is expanding its operations to Israel, providing educational programs, counseling and support to women affected by these cancers and their families. The organization marked the expansion with a launch event in the central Israeli town of Ra’anana on Wednesday night, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross reports from the gathering.

Elana Silber, the CEO of Sharsheret, told eJP ahead of the launch party that the organization had been considering an expansion into Israel for several years. Initial plans were waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic, but in 2022 the organization returned to the idea. “We started the conversations, and it turned into reality,” Silber said. “And then we were set to launch on Oct. 18, 2023.”

After the Oct. 7 terror attacks, “everything was put on hold,” she said.

In January, the organization decided to press ahead with the expansion. “The need for Sharsheret was greater than ever despite the war, maybe even because of the war,” Silber said.

Sharsheret will focus on Israel’s English-speaking population, women who have been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, survivors of the diseases and those carrying the BRCA gene mutations or are otherwise at a far higher risk of developing them.

It will offer a smaller suite of services than it does in the United States, focusing on offering one-on-one support and counseling, developing a peer support network, providing kits before and after surgery to improve quality of life and creating education programs. Unlike in the U.S., Sharsheret’s Israel initiative will not offer financial assistance, though Silber said it will direct women to other Israeli organizations that do.

The organization, which has roughly 40 employees in the United States, will have two staff members in Israel: Liora Tannenbaum and Pnina Mor. The Israel initiative also has its own medical advisory board and community advisory board.

Tannenbaum, an art therapist by training who is herself a BRCA1 carrier, will focus on the emotional and mental health support. Mor, a certified nurse midwife at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center with an expertise in BRCA gene mutations, will focus on providing medical counseling and education.

Sharsheret anticipates that it will help between 100 and 150 women and their families in the first year.

“There’s tremendous, tremendous interest, probably more than we expected, which is good, but also hard. We have to meet that expectation,” Silber said. “And it’s a hard year. It’s a very, very hard year… But we have a very dedicated team, very passionate and really just ready to do good work. So I’m excited for it.”