'36 Rabbis Shave For The Brave' To Fight Childhood Cancer

Mar 08, 2014 | Updated Mar 08, 2014

It's called "36 Rabbis Shave for the Brave," but now more than 60 rabbis have vowed to shave their heads at this year's Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Convention. Their cause? To raise awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research.

Teaming up with St. Baldrick's charity, CCAR has already raised $341,847 and is on track to reach their $360,000 goal by the April 1 convention at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park.

The story that inspired 60 rabbis and counting to agree to shave their heads is tragic and deeply personal to the Reform rabbic community. In June 2012, the young son of Chicago-area Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. In Decebmer 2013, 8-year-old Sam Sommer, known as Superman Sam, passed away.

The Sommers documented their son's illness on their blog, Superman Sam, and in October 2013 came up with the idea for "Shave for the Brave." The shave will take place at the CCAR Convention following a service on Loss, Healing, and Hope led by Rabbi Rex Perlmeter, according to a CCAR release.

From Rabbi Steven A. Fox, the Chief Executive of the CCAR:

“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. 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."

Fifty-three male and 13 female rabbis have pledged to shave their heads at the convention, and others will be shaving in their home communities. Some rabbis have made their pledges via Twitter using the hashtag #36rabbis: