CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - Apr 2, 2014) - Last night, during the 125th annual Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Convention in Chicago, 54 Reform rabbis shaved 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 health in the world for all people.
The rabbis' "Shave for the Brave" fundraiser benefited St. Baldrick's, a charity committed to funding childhood cancer research. Through the event, the CCAR rabbis raised over $540,000, making this the most successful event for St. Baldrick's this year.
"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."
"Shave for the Brave" acted as a catalyst in uniting members of the rabbinic community who have lost children and brought the entire community together to support each other, Rabbi Fox said. The connection between the Reform rabbis 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.
"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 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."
"I'm incredibly honored and humbled to participate and to stand with our colleagues who had to bury their child last December," said Rabbi Michael Latz of Congregation Shir Tikvah in Minneapolis, MN, who had his head shaved right after the Sommers last night. "As rabbis, we're called to teach and to lead, and this is an opportunity to live lives of, to call attention to childhood cancer research, and to stand for something that matters."
For more information or to speak with Rabbi Fox or Rabbi Schorr, please contact Katarina Wenk-Bodenmiller of Sommerfield Communications at (212) 255-8386 or Katarina@sommerfield.com.
About the CCAR
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/.
About St. Baldrick's
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.