May 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Sharsheret Does Good With Baked Goods

First point of business: The order deadline for chef-inspired, scratch-baked kosher pareve pies-with-a-mission in time for Thanksgiving is Tuesday, November 16: www.sharsheret.org/get-involved/pies-for-prevention/ 

Sharsheret is a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of Jewish women and families
living with, or at increased genetic risk for, breast or ovarian cancer. Since 2007, a unique fundraising project has emerged from a cloud of pumpkin-pie spice, as a growing cadre of volunteer home-bakers across the U.S., Canada, and Israel fire up their ovens to produce thousands of pies in time for Thanksgiving.

Now celebrating its bar-mitzvah year, Pies for Prevention has so far raised $615,000, all of which goes to support the Stephanie Sussman and Ann Nadrich Memorial Jewel and Sharsheret’s Ovarian Cancer Program, which has helped some 6,000 women and families. The bake sale also brings important lifesaving information about ovarian and breast cancer into the homes of anyone who purchases the baked goods, adding a critical educational facet to the fundraiser.

Pies for Prevention is the brainchild of sisters Adeena Sussman and Sharon Wieder, who used their ace pie-baking skills to raise money in memory of two loved ones whom they had lost to ovarian cancer. Their mother, Stephanie Sussman z”l, a gifted cook and baker, succumbed to the disease at age 63; their grandmother, Ann Nadrich z”l, died three years later.

From a single location in 2007, Pies for Prevention has expanded to 28 baking and pickup sites across North America and in Israel, including 11 in the tri-state area. In addition to in-person pickup, Sharsheret will ship pies and cookies anywhere in the U.S. (deadline: November 14).

Dr. Ilana Ressler, a fertility specialist who practices in Harrison, New York, and throughout Connecticut, organizes the New Rochelle Pies for Prevention location. A longtime Sharsheret supporter, she first learned of the fundraiser through her sister, a resident of Teaneck. After two years ordering pies through that location, she decided to bring one to her community.

“I spoke to both Adeena and Sharon and the liaison at Sharsheret, Sarah Eagle, and they said, ‘We’re so happy but just to warn you, it is a lot of work’!” Ressler recalled.

Each year since, she has recruited fellow bakers, fielded orders, purchased and distributed the ingredients, baked, and coordinated order pickup. And each year since, orders have increased, even in the COVID-spurred uncertainty of 2020. Sharsheret provides a baker’s guide with tips and recipes; individual bakers can branch out with their own creations, and each location has its own menu of baked goods. Donations cover not only the cost of ingredients, but the bakery-style boxes that are packed with the desserts and informational brochures about the organization.

“This is really a great opportunity: You can get homemade pies; they’re kosher and parve; you don’t have to bake the Thanksgiving dessert, and all the money is going to support the fundraiser,” Ressler said. “It’s a way that the Jewish community comes together so it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Across the border, Elana Genger oversees the New Canaan, Connecticut location—in fact, she is the sole participant, implementing the entire process from publicity to pickup. Genger was friendly with Adeena Sussman when the two lived in New York City, and she would purchase pies directly from the star baker. When the Gengers relocated in 2013, Elana started her one-woman operation.

Genger receives orders and donations from upper Westchester, New York and Fairfield County, Connecticut. Some years, she produces 35 pies; other years bring in more than 100 orders. “One year, someone placed an order for 30 pumpkin pies,” she recalled. “I love to do it; I look forward to it every year. It’s all for a good cause, and my kids love it because for three days, the house smells like pumpkin spice.”

Of course, the most pressing question for those curious about Pies for Prevention is: Which baked good has proven most popular? The consensus—at least for Ressler and Genger—is unanimous.

“The trend this year and last year seems pretty much consistently the chocolate-chip cookie dough pie, and the pecan and pumpkin pies are usually fairly close behind it,” Ressler said. For New Canaan customers, the chocolate-chip cookie dough pie is big with kids, “and some years, the pumpkin pie is very popular because nondairy is hard to find,” Genger said.

Both locations also offer loaf cakes, and Ressler’s menu includes gluten-free peanut-butter-and-chocolate blondies.

To find a pickup location: www.sharshertheret.org/get-involved/pies-for-prevention/ 

Pies for Prevention is just one invaluable initiative of Sharsheret’s outreach and education. For more information about the organization’s free, national programs and services for Jewish women and families facing breast cancer and ovarian cancer: www.sharsheret.org.

By Cynthia Mindell

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