On April 1, during the 125th annual Central Conference of American Rabbis Convention in Chicago, Tampa Bay area rabbis Jason Rosenberg of Congregation Beth Am in Tampa, Joel Simon of Congregation Schaarei Zedek in Tampa and Daniel Treiser of Temple B'nai Israel in Clearwater joined more than 60 male and female reform rabbis who shaved their heads to raise awareness of, and funding for, pediatric cancer research.
The "Shave for the Brave" event benefits St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-driven, nonprofit charity committed to funding pediatric cancer research to find cures for childhood cancers. The group has helped organize thousands of head-shaving events since 2000 and has raised millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research.
"Through our work, our friendships and our personal lives, each one of us has experienced the pain and hurt cancer brings to an individual and their loved ones. We are honored to participate in the 'Shave for the Brave' fundraiser, and to support St. Baldrick's in its efforts to research pediatric cancer, and find a cure," Treiser said.
The connection between the Reform Jewish community and pediatric cancer advocacy began with Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer, who had documented their son Sam's battle with cancer on their blog, Superman Sam, which resulted in an outpouring of support from all over the country.
In October 2013, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer and Rabbi Rebecca Schorr organized "36 Rabbis Shave for the Brave," a fundraiser to raise awareness that only 4 percent of United States federal funding for cancer research is earmarked for all childhood cancers.
Sadly, Sam Sommer lost his fight with leukemia in December 2013 but the rabbis of "Shave for the Brave" have banded together to help save other families from having to go through what the Sommers went through.
"The role of a rabbi is to right wrongs identified in the world, and the 'Shave for the Brave' event allows rabbis to do that, by raising awareness of pediatric cancer and helping to work towards a cure,' said Rabbi Steven A. Fox, CCAR chief executive.
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A Christian moveable feast that falls on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem the week before his death and resurrection. For many Christian churches, Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday.
The following churches invite the public to Palm Sunday services:
• St. Cecelia Catholic Church, 820 Jasmine Way, Clearwater, presents Palm Sunday mass at 6:45, 8, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and in Spanish at 1:30 and 7 p.m.. Penance services and confessions will be 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday Call (727) 447-3494. Visit stceceliachurch.org.
• The Palm Sunday service at Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church will begin at 10:30 a.m. at 110 S Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater. Call (727) 446-3001. Visit peacememorial.org.
• As part of its Easter Eucharist schedule, St. Michael Anglican Church will celebrate Palm Sunday services with Diocesian Bishop Neil Lebhar at 9:30 a.m. at the Dunedin Masonic Lodge No. 192 F&AM, 1297 Michigan Blvd., Dunedin. Call (727) 542-2051.
• Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 3200 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, will present Palm Sunday services at 8 and 10 a.m. with the Rev. Randall Hehr. Call (727) 796-5514. Visit holytrinityclw.org.
• Palm Sunday procession begins at 5 p.m. Saturday and again at 8 and 10 a.m. Sunday in the outdoor chapel of St. Alfred's Episcopal Church, 1601 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor. Call (727) 785-1601.
• Northwood Presbyterian Church presents "In My Place," a Lenten cantata by Craig Courtney at 4 p.m. Sunday in the sanctuary at 2875 State Road 580, Clearwater. Childcare will be provided. Call (727) 796-8090. Visit northwoodpc.org.
• Be inspired by friendship, fellowship, reverence and joy during Holy Week services presented by Hope Presbyterian Church, 1698 S Belcher Road, Clearwater. A palm procession featuring special music and worship with communion will be presented at 10:15 a.m. Sunday Call (727) 531-3200. Visit hopefamily.com.
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Crystal Beach Community Church invites the public to celebrate the Easter season with an evening of sacred music at 7 p.m. Saturday at 625 Crystal Beach Ave., Crystal Beach.
Dessert will be served a half hour prior to the event.
In lieu of tickets, a love offering will be taken during this special concert of choral, instrumental and solo music by our church family to benefit the mortgage retirement fund.
On Sunday, the church will present a traditional Palm Sunday service at 10:45 a.m.
Call (727) 784-8222; email [email protected]; or visit crystalbeachcc.org.
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At 3 p.m. Sunday, Peace Memorial Concert Series presents its final concert of the season, Faure's Requiem with chamber orchestra and organ. Complementing this featured work will be other gems of French repertoire such as Cesar Franck's Panis Angelicus plus other works by Faure and Maurice Durufle.
Presented on Palm Sunday, this musical introduction to Holy Week features selections well suited for the acoustics of Peace Memorial's sanctuary at 110 S Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater.
Peace Memorial Chancel Choir will perform, joined by the Clearwater Bach Choir plus soloists Kevin Nickorick, baritone; Bill Renfroe, tenor; and Jennifer Renfroe, soprano. The choir will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra that includes Florida Orchestra members. Peace Memorial's Cassavant pipe organ will be played by James Jordan.
Doors open at 2:15 p.m. and an offering will be taken upon entry. No tickets are needed and seating is first come, first served.
A light reception in the fellowship hall will follow.
For more information call (727) 446 3001. Visit peacememorial.org.
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The entire community is invited to participate in Chabad of Clearwater's Passover Seder at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Tabacinic Chabad Center, 2280 Belleair Road, Clearwater.
The seder will feature a discussion about Passover, food (including special handmade shmura matzah) and singing. Rabbi Levi Hodakov of the Chabad of Clearwater and his family will lead the program.
The cost to attend is $40 per adult and $20 per child (3-12). Advance reservations are required. Call (727) 265-2770 or visit jewishclearwater.com. No one will be turned away for lack of ability to pay.
More information about the Passover holiday can be found at JewishClearwater.com/Passover.
Mail religion news to Tampa Bay Times, 1130 Cleveland St., Suite 100-A, Clearwater, FL 33755; fax to (727) 445-4119; or email [email protected]