The 73 rabbis who shaved their heads this week as part of a campaign to raise money for pediatric cancer research went all out, together donating more than $570,000 to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
The fundraiser was inspired by Samuel Sommers, the 8-year-old son of Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommers’ 8-year-old son, who died of refractory acute myeloid leukemia in December 2013. Phyllis Sommers documented her Samuel’s struggle on a blog called “Superman Sam.” Just days before Samuel’s death, she came up with the idea of a shaving campaign.
“Of the sixty or so shavees, some who knew Sammy and the Sommers well, others just met them, yet we all feel we know them well,” Rabbi Charles Briskin, one of the rabbis who participated in the campaign, told JTA. “Last night, however, we were all part of one extended family, sitting, shaving, crying and laughing in solidarity.”
Briskin said that the campaign brought in more money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an organization that funds pediatric cancer research, than any other single head-shaving event this year. St. Baldricks has been coordinating shave-a-thons since 2000 as a way for volunteers to show solidarity with cancer patients and promote awareness.