This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.
Thirty-six rabbis are expected to shortly shave their heads in honor of St. Baldrick, but their congregants will be relieved to know the rabbis are not changing their religion. The Jewish leaders are simply showing just how fervent they are in their desire to support pediatric cancer research.
“There’s no real St. Baldrick,” explains Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr, who is organizing the fundraising campaign in honor of Samuel Sommer, an eight-year-old Chicago-area boy suffering from refractory acute myeloid leukemia.
In coordination with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation (its name is a mashup of “bald” and “St. Patrick’s), Schorr is recruiting 36 of her colleagues to shave their heads to bring in at least $180,000 in sponsorship donations toward research grant funding.
“It’s really important to fund research specifically for childhood cancers,” says Schorr, who lives near Allentown, Pennsylvania, and edits a blog about disability for the New York Jewish Week. “So little is earmarked for pediatric cancer research, but at the same time, protocols for adult research are not safe for kids.”
Sam is the son of Schorr’s colleague, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. Following an initial diagnosis in June 2012, Sam underwent treatment, including a bone marrow treatment, and went into remission. Recently, his illness returned and doctors told his parents there is nothing more they can do for him. His mother has recorded her son’s and her family’s cancer journey on a blog called “Superman Sam.”
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.