Over 60 Reform Rabbis to Shave Their Heads to Raise in Support of Pediatric Cancer Research – April 1, 2014, in Chicago
“Shave for the Brave” Event to Take Place During Central Conference of American Rabbis’ 125th Annual Convention, in Support of St. Baldrick’s
Chicago (February 21, 2014) – During the 125th annual Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Convention, over 60 Reform rabbis will shave their heads to raise awareness of and funding for pediatric cancer research. As the religious leadership of Reform Judaism, the CCAR Rabbis strive for justice and wholeness and health in the world in for all people. At the same time, through the CCAR, the rabbis support one another in their rabbinic and personal lives. Shave for the Brave has been a catalyst in uniting members of the rabbinic community who have lost children and brought the entire community together to support each other.
The Convention will be held at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park. The Convention brings together members of the CCAR, the Rabbinic leadership organization of Reform Judaism, with over 2,000 Reform rabbis providing religious leadership in all walks of life, be it congregations, organizations, College campuses or the military.
The connection between the Reform Rabbinic community and pediatric cancer advocacy began with the story of Samuel “Superman Sam” Sommer, the son of Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer. Sam succumbed to leukemia in December 2013. The Sommers documented Sam's battle with cancer on their blog, Superman Sam. Rabbi Phyllis Sommer serves Am Shalom in Glencoe, IL, and her husband has served Congregation B’nai Torah in Highland Park, IL, and North Shore Congregation Israel.
The Shave will take place on the evening of April 1st at the CCAR Convention in Chicago following a service on Loss, Healing, and Hope led by Rabbi Rex Perlmeter.
“We are proud and honored that the CCAR Convention could host this inspiring event, which fosters our goal of rabbis supporting rabbis and building relationships throughout our communities,” said Rabbi Steven A. Fox, the Chief Executive of the CCAR. “One of the many roles of the rabbi is to strive to change the world for the betterment of all peoples, be it the health and well being of members of our society or social justice for all. The ‘Shave for the Brave’ event allows rabbis to do that, by raising awareness of pediatric cancer and helping to work towards a cure.” Rabbi Fox also noted that the CCAR has been at the forefront of religious leadership advocating for healthcare for all people everywhere. As early as the 1940s, the CCAR declared that “Every individual should have access to medical care and the most advanced medical research regardless of his economic circumstances.” Fox added: “This event is an example of CCAR rabbis acting on our moral commitments.”
“Seven families lose a child to cancer each day, yet only 4% of US federal funding for cancer research is earmarked for all childhood cancers. We can’t bring Sam back, but we can help other families,” said Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr, the “Shave for the Brave” organizer. “By taking such visible action, these rabbis are serving as role models in their communities and raising awareness among their congregants. It’s an amazing way to bring out the best in people and strengthen the community.”
The rabbis’ Shave for the Brave fundraiser benefits St. Baldrick’s, a charity committed to funding childhood cancer research. Originally conceived of in the hopes of convincing 36 rabbis to help raise $180,000, the group has grown to 66 rabbis and is on track to raise $360,000. The “shavees” consist of 53 male and 13 female rabbis. In addition to the group shaving at the CCAR Convention, there are additional rabbis shaving in their home communities, including Conservative and Reconstructionist rabbis who were inspired to support their rabbinic colleagues. The outpouring of support demonstrates how a tragedy can unite people across denominations to act on shared values.
If you would like to join Shave for the Brave, please contact us. You can make a donation here.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis, founded in 1889, is the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in North America. As the professional organization for Reform Rabbis of North America, the CCAR projects a powerful voice in the religious life of the American and international Jewish communities. Since its establishment, the CCAR has a rich history of giving professional and personal support to Reform rabbis, providing them with opportunities for study, professional development and spiritual growth beginning while they are still in seminary, through mid-careers, and into retirement. The CCAR is uniquely positioned to meet the ongoing needs of its nearly 2,000 member rabbis (virtually the entire Reform rabbinate) and the entire Reform Jewish community. For more information please visit the CCAR’s website at http://ccarnet.org/.
St. Baldrick’s is a volunteer-driven, non-profit charity that is committed to funding pediatric cancer research to find cures for childhood cancers, and to give survivors long and healthy lives. The group has helped organize thousands of head-shaving events since 2000, and has raised millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research. You can make a donation in honor of Sam Sommer here.