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Participant 660938

Elisa Koppel
is Shaving to Cure Childhood Cancers

Every 3 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer. Help me fund the research that will save their lives!

Elisa Koppel Before Elisa Koppel After
Event Date
Apr 1, 2014
Participant Roles

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Your donations fund lifesaving children’s cancer research

$16,380 raised
$18,000 goal


The Talmud teaches (Tractate Sanhedrin 97b and Tractate Sukkah 45b) that at any given time, there are 36 completely righteous people in the world. These people, known as the lamed vavniks (based on the numeric equivalents of the Hebrew letters that add up to 36: lamed which is 30 and vav which is six). The tradition is that the world’s existence literally depends on these people — if just one were missing, the world would end.
No one knows who these 36 are — their identity is hidden even from each other and themselves. In fact, should anyone claim to be a lamed vavnik, it is seen as proof that they are not — for a true lamed vavnik would be much more humble than to think of themselves as that righteous.
This lesson was taught here beautifully at Temple Beth-El last fall on Selichot, by Kathi Kardon and the Beth-El Players. I had no idea then, watching the play, how this idea would carry through my year.
Some of you, over the past year and a half, have heard me talk about Superman Sam—the son of my dear friends and colleagues, Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer, who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in June of 2012. If you’re not familiar with his story, you can read it at http://supermansamuel.blogspot.com/, the blog where his parents lovingly, often pain- fully, share their family’s story.
In November, we learned that Sam had again relapsed, and that he was incurable. It was around that time that in honor of Sam, as a statement of support for his parents and siblings, as a sign of our own sense of wanting things to be different in the world, that I joined with several colleagues to become the 36 Rabbis Who Shave for the Brave.
While the idea started with there be- ing 36 of us, there are now 61 of us (and at least 20 others participating in other ways). Together, on March 31, we are all going to shave our heads.
Yes, you read that correctly. I am shaving my head.
We are doing this to raise awareness about childhood cancer. We are doing this also to raise funds for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research. We’ve already raised more than $295,000 and hope to raise much, much more (our current goal is $360,000, but I know I’m not the only one who believes we can do much more).
Because of Sammy and his parents, I’ve learned so much that I never knew. That only 4% of federal funds for cancer research goes to childhood cancers. That 13,500 children each year are diagnosed with cancer. That 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year — treatments that, because of the need for more research for childhood cancer, are out of date and dangerous. That every day, in America, 7 children die of cancer.
That’s not ok. None of that is ok. And no family should have to go through what my friends have gone through — what so many families have gone through. We couldn’t save Sammy. But we hope we can save others through the research that we are funding through teaching others what we have learned. Because I don’t think you can look at those numbers and think that they’re ok. You can’t look at Sammy’s sweet face and think that it’s ok that he became one of those numbers.
At Sam’s funeral in December, as we hugged some of the people we love most in the world, as we watched the snow fall onto Sammy’s grave through our tears, our collective resolve grew to make things different. And while Sam’s life has ended, his story has not,
and his legacy — the inspiration that he’s brought — certainly goes on.
Thank you so much to all of you who have supported me — emotionally, as I’ve shared my friends’ grief over these past months, and also who have donated to the cause of 36 rabbis. It’s hard for me to express how much it means. I hope you will consider supporting me as well. By sharing the reasons that I’m do- ing this with others and helping me to cre- ate change through advocacy and education about childhood cancer, and by donating to the cause. Even a small donation makes a huge difference.
You can also give support by giving blood or helping us organize the upcoming blood drive on February 9 and by register- ing to be a bone marrow donor through Gift of Life at the Purim Carnival on March 2.
Those, too, are important ways through which lives can be saved and through which you can help make a difference.
We are the 36 Rabbis Who Shave for the Brave. We want to make a difference. We will make a difference.
We do not think, by the way, that any of us are lamed vavniks; we’re fairly confident that none of us are. But we also believe that if all of us behave as if we are more righteous than we are, then perhaps the world will become more right.
We also recognize that of the kids whose lives we hope to save, one of them might be a lamed vavnik, and the whole world depends on them being in it.
The letters lamed and vav spell lev — the Hebrew word for heart. As our hearts break for our friends, as we support our friends in their broken heartedness, we pray for hearts that are whole. We do this as an act of love.
As we stand together as the 36 rabbis, we shave as a sign for our hope for that wholeness — for ourselves, for each other, for Sammy’s family, and — indeed —
for the world.
Read More

Kids Honored

Sam Sommer
  • Highwood, IL US
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
  • Deceased

Donor List

  • $500 - $999

    Wilmington Trust

  • Rabbi Elisa F Koppel In Honor Of The Sommer Family

  • $250 - $499

    Barbara and Robert Koppel In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Mrs. Debra R Greenblatt

  • Clyde P Selig

  • Leo and Miriam L'Homme

  • Anonymous In Honor Of Superman Sam

  • Mrs. Shirley E Swanson

  • 5774 Confirmation Class of Temple Beth-El In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Rabbi Elisa F Koppel In Honor Of #ALSIceBucketChallenge Nomination

  • Rabbi Elisa F Koppel In Honor Of The year to come

  • $100 - $249

    Leslie Klieger

  • Anonymous In Memory Of Eleanor Williamson

  • The Yonteffs of NYC

  • Jarah & Bracha In Honor Of Superman Sam

  • Andy, Kim, Adam, Jason and Rachel Yonteff

  • Ms. zoe klein

  • Leo and Miriam L'Homme

  • Tara Zimmerman

  • Hilary McNamara

  • Richard & Ellie Drileck

  • Arlene G Dryer In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Ms. Jordana Markman-Epstein

  • Mr. Rick M Byrd

  • Lynn Turiel In Honor Of Phoebe Spear

  • Golden Manor Jewish Senior Services

  • Dr. Claudia Stokes-Liss

  • Rabbi Samuel Stahl

  • Ms. Marsha D Krassner

  • Danna, Jim, Josh & Daniel In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Anonymous (2)

  • Metersky Family

  • Mrs. Debra R Greenblatt

  • Melissa and Rich Fiore In Memory Of Sammy Sommer

  • Judy Mayrand

  • lori Williamson In Honor Of Susan & Donald Williamson

  • Lisa Denby & Ron Orland

  • Julie & Alan Berlin

  • Mr. Daniel S Taylor

  • Marco & Janel Amador In Memory Of Mrs. Susan Roelandt

  • Tally Izaak In Memory Of Edan Ziv

  • Eric Lienhard and Heidi Splane

  • Ms. Elizabeth J Gunning

  • Beth R Grossfeld

  • Mrs. elisa aylward

  • Susan and Talbot Sklar

  • Larry and Wendy Heligman In Honor Of Ashley Rosen

  • Cyna Alderman In Honor Of Elisa Koppel

  • Dr. Jennefer C Sutton

  • KKR-MP Charitable Gift Fund

  • Rabbi Elisa F Koppel In Honor Of The Temple Beth-El Confirmation Class of 5774

  • Mrs. Debra R Greenblatt In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel's birthday

  • Claudia Stokes In Honor Of Anna C.

  • Sara Metersky

  • Rabbi Elisa F Koppel In Honor Of Maya Rigler And the Rigler Family

  • $1 - $99

    Ms. Dana Brenner

  • Daniel and Linda Laser

  • Rabbi Erica Gerson In Honor Of Superman Sam

  • Lisa, Gary, Mitchell & Shayna Friedman

  • Dana Levin (2)

  • Dr. Claudia Stokes

  • Rabbi Judy Cohen-Rosenberg

  • Rabbi rose durbin

  • The Beerman Family In Honor Of Elisa Koppel

  • Ms. Abigail C Wolfson

  • Ms. Sarah Blaine

  • Miss Alissa M Gold

  • Rabbi Jill Maderer

  • Rabbi Samuel J Rose

  • The Shimansky Family In Honor Of Sam Sommer

  • Robin and Larry Osman In Memory Of Mrs. Phyllis Zimmerman

  • Fran Cohen

  • Shari and Sam Jones In Memory Of Harriet Diamond

  • Sara Shapiro-Plevan & Bill Plevan

  • Michelle Windmueller

  • Jessica and Evan Ochs

  • Sharon Miller

  • Cindy J Terebush

  • Rabbi Eric Linder In Honor Of Superman Sam

  • Dr. Jon and Ruth Berenson In Memory Of Alvin and Ethel Koppel

  • Dr. Jon and Ruth Berenson In Memory Of Mollie and Israel Zukroff

  • Helene & Marvin Gersten

  • Mrs. Paula Cohen In Honor Of Mrs. Lea Ruskin

  • Ms. Laurie Posner

  • Deena and Lewis Ochs

  • Michelle, Brian, Louis & Ross Brown

  • Tricia S.

  • Margie & Harvey Yonteff

  • Mark Ingram and Trent Boarnet In Memory Of Samuel Sommer

  • Warren Lieberman

  • Rabbi Mark Kaiserman In Memory Of Sam "Superman" Sommer

  • Mr. Dan Klein In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • The Cohen Family

  • Carolyn Nester In Honor Of Elisa Koppel

  • Margie and Michael Bogdanow

  • Mr. Andy Kabbe

  • Mr. Aaron Rittmaster In Memory Of Superman Sam Sommer

  • Jen Lowenstein In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Rabbi Doug Sagal In Memory Of Sam Sommer

  • Seth Lindenman and Marci Bellows Lindenman In Memory Of Sammy Sommer

  • Renee Walker (2)

  • Mr. Christian A Glynn In Memory Of Mrs. Mary Ann Rambone

  • Mr. Christian A Glynn In Memory Of Mr. Anthony L Spagnola

  • Freckles Dixon

  • Danielle Rodnizki In Memory Of Sam Sommer

  • Jason Bronowitz In Memory Of Sam Sommer

  • lori Williamson In Memory Of Eleanor Williamson

  • Ms. Abby Thomas

  • Wendi Geffen In Memory Of Sam Sommer

  • Anonymous (13)

  • Ms. Rebecca M Kleinhandler

  • Mr. Ben Kellman

  • Mrs. Janice L Williams

  • Deborah Freedman

  • Lacey A Dalby

  • Ms. Meredith Pscherer

  • Jacqueline Spitz

  • Rachel Berez Skadron In Memory Of Linda Berez

  • Julie K Stubington

  • The Berger Family In Honor Of Hayley Filippini

  • Leslie F Resnick

  • Michelle & Andrew Gold

  • Shannon Seglin

  • Kori Kaufman

  • Kat and Nick Kallmyer In Memory Of Mr. Peter H Claussen, III

  • Gayle K Kipp

  • Mrs. sheryn Cohen

  • Mr. Jonathan E Muchin

  • Faber Daeufer & Itrato PC

  • Ms. Missy Goldstein In Memory Of Superman Sam Sommer

  • Dan Isaacs

  • Simon Rosenblatt

  • Mrs. Becky Johnson Cronk

  • Ms. Nancy Pompan

  • Ms. Mary A Barnett In Memory Of Stephanie Simon

  • lori Williamson In Honor Of Lisa Goldstein

  • Roxanne Henkin & Mary Lou Daugherty In Honor Of Lisa Goldstein

  • Amanda Zuckman In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Mindi Silver-Weiss In Honor Of Elisa Koppel

  • Mrs. Patricia A Marcus

  • Maris Van Heynigen In Honor Of Lisa Goldstein

  • Anonymous In Honor Of Lisa A Goldstein

  • Anonymous In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • The Tanner Family (Henderson, NV) In Honor Of Ashley Rosen's Bat Mitzvah

  • Barbara and Bob Koppel

  • Barbara and Bob Koppel

  • Lynne OSullivan

  • Anonymous In Memory Of Samuel A Sommer

  • Mr. Dan Gore

  • Chris Adams

  • Mr. Jonathan R Bookman In Memory Of Ms. Martha S Bookman

  • Jillian Harper

  • Geri Gregory In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Carly M Cera

  • Barbara s Boarnet In Memory Of Dr. Herbert M Stearns

  • Janis and Stephen Kowel

  • Lauren & Michael Resnikoff

  • Ana Bonnheim In Memory Of Sophia Allenberg

  • Erica Skoglund

  • Kyle Miller

  • Sharon Morton from RPB In Memory Of Sam ♥ Sommer

  • Ms. Stephanie Sampiere

  • The Kass Family - Leslie, Andy, Cayla & Marissa

  • Cantor Hayley Kobilinsky in memory of Samuel Asher Sommer

  • Mr. Frank Bartos

  • Ms. Julia M Carlson

  • Sharon L. Hellman-Freiberg

  • Nathan and Pamela Lawrence In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • David & Amber Zaremsky In Honor Of Miss Emily Whitehead

  • Anonymous In Honor Of Hayley Filippini

  • Mary and Harry Levy

  • Mary Sheridan

  • Jen and Neal Katz

  • Rebekah Planto

  • Pam Clarke Sandonato

  • Bruce

  • Rachel J Rustin

  • Iris Naroden In Memory Of Florence Green Zatz

  • Ms. Barbara Silcox

  • Marin Kobin

  • Rachel Grossman

  • Karen L Wollman

  • Michelle and John Windmueller In Honor Of All the wonderful folks who are shaving their heads to make a difference. Thank you all!

  • Rachel Gray-Castro

  • My Tzedakah Box

  • Brent & Roman Vasquez Johnson

  • Mr. Ari Beerman In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Mr. Jerry B Cohen

  • Rabbi Joel N Abraham In Honor Of # rabbisinthebackrow

  • Mrs. Sarah L Blaine

  • A fellow Brandesian In Honor Of Elisa Koppel

  • Linda Schuchardt

  • Ms. Marge Eiseman In Memory Of Sammy Sommers

  • Krystina Johnson

  • Lee & Bob Markman

  • Sharon K Miller In Honor Of Waylon Gruene Malone

  • Karen Ezra In Memory Of Alex Shapiro

  • Elise Lehrman

  • Reinvent Yourself with Lizzy In Memory Of Betty Machacek

  • Barbara Moss

  • Rachel Gershenson-Gates In Honor Of Maya Durbin

  • Robin Hirsch

  • Meredith & Pat Pscherer

  • Mrs. Stacie Levitt-Sargis

  • Debra C Morrow

  • Chris Bellerdine

  • Rabbi Sue N Shankman In Memory Of Sam Sommer

  • Benjamin Brenner, Dana Brenner, and Darren Lav

  • The Beerman Family In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Jane E Herman

  • Carol T Machacek In Memory Of Nell Machacek

  • Ms. Leigh K Drachman In Memory Of Carol Gray

  • Hannah Moskowitz

  • Kathy Kurzman

  • Mrs. Susan Taylor RN

  • Mr. Jonathan R Bookman

  • Arielle Hill-Moses

  • Tracy McConnel, your mother In Memory Of Sammy Sommer

  • Ms. Rachel B Selig

  • Ms. Jodi Bromberg

  • Ms. Julie M Rosenberg

  • Debbie and Jason Foss

  • Becky Schenker

  • Sylvie In Honor Of Elisa Koppel

  • Amelia Stephen In Memory Of Superman Sam

  • Cantor Robbi Sherwin

  • Various Rabbis Who Shave for the Brave In Honor Of Ashley Rosen's Bat Mitzvah Tzedakah Project

  • Cash I found In My Pocket

  • Lauren Schumer

  • Cindy & Stan Gersch In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Kay Nell Bates In Memory Of Annabelle Korn

  • Benjamin & Michael Kressbach

  • Various Cash Donations

  • Rabbi Andrew Jacobs

  • Ashley Rosen

  • Judd and Dale Rosen in honor of Ashley Rosen's Bat Mitzvah

  • JPMorgan Chase Foundation

  • Fran Cohen and Noble In honor of Elisa Koppel's birthday and In Memory Of Sammy Sommer

  • Mr. David Gold

  • Jeannie Hutchinson

  • Ms. Amanda Zuckman In Honor Of Elisa Koppel

  • Ms. Erin R McKinney-Prupis

  • Rabbi Anne Persin In Memory Of Sammy Sommer

  • Deanne Cuellar In Memory Of Saya Cuellar-Cintron

  • Rabbi Joel N Abraham

  • Deborah L Montemayor

  • Ms. Sarah L Blaine

  • Ms. Lacey A Dalby

  • N, P and Logan Lawrence

  • Mr. Jonathan E Muchin In Memory Of Sam Sommer

  • Gari Charley Ali & Mack Bloom In Memory Of Sammy, and Michael Damato

  • Sara Shapiro-Plevan & Bill Plevan In Memory Of Sam Sommer

  • Dana Lav and Family

  • Ms. Caryn Turner In Memory Of Mr. Joe Wayman

  • Ms. Lacey A Dalby In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Mr. Daniel A Vela

  • Ms. Fran Cohen In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Chelsea M Thompson

  • Stefano Iacono & Alex Stubbs-Trevino In Honor Of Rabbi Elisa Koppel

  • Ariella Yehudit

  • Ms. Tricia Stuart In Memory Of Ms. Kim Hardy

  • CEJ

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