Our Story

Sharsheret was founded in November 2001 by Rochelle Shoretz, a former Law Clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recognized the need for a breast cancer organization sensitive to the cultural needs of young Jewish women and families after her own diagnosis at age 28.

According to a 2001 assessment of the breast cancer needs of young women, "Young women need to be able to see and talk to young survivors in order to believe it's possible to survive breast cancer and they are not alone." Information provided to young women "should be targeted; women need to perceive information as personally relevant to women in their age group and culture."

The concerns of pre-menopausal women facing breast cancer are unique. Young women are dating, marrying, having children, and raising children. Their cancers tend to be more aggressive, may result in early menopause, and are associated with higher mortality rates, yet breast cancer research studies often fail to include pre-menopausal women. Young Jewish women face additional concerns, including the increased genetic risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer in families of Ashkenazi/Eastern European descent (1 in 40 Jews carries a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene that can trigger these cancers), the role of Jewish spirituality in daily life with cancer and in healing, and cultural norms surrounding dating, marriage, and fertility.

Since its founding in 2001, Sharsheret has responded to more than 40,000 breast cancer and ovarian cancer inquiries, involved more than 3,000 peer supporters, developed 12 national support and education programs, and presented more than 250 educational programs nationwide. In recognition of Sharsheret’s important contributions to women’s health, Sharsheret was named a recipient of the New York State Innovation in Breast Cancer Early Detection and Research Award, and selected as a member of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance. In 2010, Rochelle was appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That same year, recognizing the need for specific support for those facing ovarian cancer, Sharsheret launched a national ovarian cancer program.

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