About 350 Stern and Yeshiva College undergraduates united in Furst Hall on the night of Tuesday, February 21st to participate in the sixth annual Sharsheret Cake Wars. In order to raise money and awareness for breast and ovarian cancer, Cake Wars charges $15 per individual to decorate a cake with a team of friends. The Sharsheret Club worked with the Yeshiva Student Council and the Stern College for Women Student Council to find corporate sponsors like 16 Handles for the event.
The goal of the Sharsheret Club at Yeshiva University is to fundraise money for the Sharsheret organization, a nonprofit committed to supporting Jewish women with breast and ovarian cancers. Sharsheret offers support for women at any stage of their cancer journey, with services like one-on-one with experts, peer conversations, genetic diagnosis, survivor contacts, parental guides and side effect treatment. For Sharsheret, emotional support plays a large part in cancer treatment, and the organization ensures that women undergoing diagnoses and operations feel that the community stands behind them during the struggle with cancer.
Throughout its existence, the Sharsheret Club has offered support to the organization through various fundraisers. Cake Wars, however, is a relatively new inception in the club’s history. One of Cake War’s founders and YC alumnus David Bodmer ‘14, explained, “Six years ago a team of me and eight others were looking for an event that can bring guys and girls together and raise money for Sharsheret. We thought about doing something fun, so someone suggested cupcakes, and we built off that idea.” Bodner participated in the event this year as a judge, and enjoyed witnessing how his wild idea of Cake Wars has progressed to be one of the most popular event on campus.
Cake Wars has certainly grown since its beginnings. This year, more than 275 students signed up to decorate cakes while many others came to observe, judge and support. Care was taken to cut back on club costs this year; the Sharsheret Club utilized YU food services for the cake supplies, instead of buying from bakeries as they have done in the past. Although the toppings, cups, frosting and gift cards were generously donated by 16 Handles, YU worked with the Sharsheret board to bake the cakes. Beginning the week before Cake Wars, board members took turns baking cakes nightly. Not only did the teamwork create more profit to donate to Sharsheret, but working within the community also aligned with Sharsheret’s community-driven mission.
Many attendees used the opportunity to show off their creative sides while enjoying themselves. With team names such as “Pink is the new Black” and “Shakers and Bakers,” decorators used their thirty minutes of frosting time to create original and elaborate cakes. Participants in pink shirts and icing warpaint crowded over cakes that looked like Donald Trump, elaborate cherry trees, and bowling alleys.
Many people signed up for Cake Wars simply because they thought that the event would be fun, but left with the bigger picture of the incredible work that Sharsheret does. Chava Baum commented, “I think Sharsheret is an amazing organization for running an event that gets people interested without necessarily needing to first be a really strong advocate for breast cancer… it drafts people into being advocates for the cause because the event is so much fun.”
Students who have a personal connection with the cause due to friends and family especially feel the importance of Sharsheret’s event. Rachel Haber said that this event is particularly meaningful for her. “I think Sharsheret is amazing because personally my grandmother passed away from cancer. I think it’s important to have awareness in the school.” When it comes to cancer, emotional help for the patient, as well as their family and community, is often overlooked but necessary. Sharsheret models this form of support as a community organization that unites people in the fight against cancer. For instance, Sharsheret connects survivors with victims for one-on-one support and calls all its members “sisters.”
The event largely accomplished its mission, as people came in with joy and excitement and left with awareness of the cause, while the Sharsheret Club raised money for the organization it is meant to support. “I’d guess that a lot of people originally signed up because they had heard of the one-of-a kind event, but I believe that people became more aware of the vital role that Sharsheret plays in the Jewish community. Specifically, I think our theme of family was very important because it reminded people that Sharsheret’s role is felt by all members of a family facing breast cancer. In the end, an event is only successful if students decide to participate,” said Akiva Frishman, president of the Sharsheret Club.
With all the fun that people have while raising money for an incredible organization, you can say that Sharsheret had its cake and ate it too.