As an oncology nurse, Judi Hirschfield-Bartek raised awareness of the importance of genetic testing and environmental factors in understanding breast cancer. While working for Dr. Susan Love, a cancer researcher and patient advocate, Hirshfield-Bartek became involved in breast cancer activism—a cause that was especially important to her as the daughter of a woman who died from breast cancer. She has served on the board of the National Breast Cancer Coalition and is also a founding member of the Jewish Women's Coalition on Breast Cancer, which addresses issues of genetic testing. She has lobbied Congress on the importance of research and critical issues of privacy and non-discrimination for genetic predispositions. Alongside her work as an activist and lecturer on issues of cancer and genetic testing, Hirshfield-Bartek continues her work as a nurse at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Judi Hirschfield-Bartek was honored at the 2001 Women Who Dared event in Boston.
Judith Hirshfeld-Bartek, an oncology nurse at Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospital in Boston, MA, grew up in Deal, New Jersey. In this interview, conducted by Judith Rosenbaum, she discusses her activism in gaining funding for research and treatment of breast cancer, as well as how her Judaism has influenced her and her children’s activism and volunteer work. She describes how her upbringing influenced her and the role her parents and grandmother played in the development of her activism. She recalls how her grandmother founded several charitable organizations during the Great Depression which inspired her in her own work. She then mentions her involvement with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies as well as the philanthropic work that Temple Shalom does and its requirement for community service as part of children’s bar or bat mitzvahs influencing her and her family’s volunteer work. She also discusses how she would lobby state and federal officials to increase funding for breast cancer patients and research for treatments.