Rabbi Joel Levenson of Midway Jewish Center in Syosset will join more than 60 male and female rabbis when they shave their heads to raise awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research.
The rabbis’ “Shave for the Brave” fundraiser benefits St. Baldrick’s, a charity committed to funding childhood cancer research. So far, the rabbis have raised more than $330,000 and hope to reach their goal of $360,000.
“I am honored to participate in the Shave for the Brave fundraiser, and to support St. Baldrick’s in their efforts to research pediatric cancer, and find a cure,” said Rabbi Levenson. “My hope and prayer is that through our efforts we can spare other parents from the pain of telling their child that there is nothing that the doctors can do to save his life.”
The connection between the Jewish community and pediatric cancer advocacy began with the story of Samuel Sommer, the son of Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer. 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 Sommers had documented Sam’s battle with cancer on their blog, “Superman Sam.” From the blog, there came an outpouring of support from people all over the country who sympathized with Sam and his family. Rabbis across denominations prayed Mi Shebeirach for Sam’s recovery.
In October 2013, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer and Rabbi Rebecca Schorr had the idea to organize a massive fundraiser, Shave for the Brave, in which 36 rabbis would shave their heads, raising awareness of the reality that only 4 percent of United States federal funding for cancer research is earmarked for all childhood cancers. The initial fundraising goal for Shave for the Brave was $180,000, to fund pediatric cancer research.
“We have surpassed our initial goal, but will not stop,” said Rabbi Schorr. “Not now; not ever.”
Sam succumbed to leukemia in December 2013. Rabbis of Shave for the Brave have banned together to help save other families from having to go through what the Sommers went through.
“[We are] slightly meshugene, but very devoted rabbis who are yearning to do something,” explains Schorr. “We couldn’t save Sammy; perhaps, though, we can save others.”
Rabbi Levenson’s Shave for the Brave event will take place at Midway Jewish Center on March 18 at 7:15 p.m. when the synagogue high school students attend classes.
You can visit http://bit.ly/36rabbis to make a donation to St. Baldrick’s in memory of Samuel Sommer.
— Midway Jewish Center