This week the RASG Hebrew Academy was filled with junior stress, senioritis, play auditions, and one less man bun.
Danny Yerushalmi, student council president and captain of the varsity basketball team, has finally traded his silky black curls for a military buzz cut to help children with cancer.
Danny was inspired to grow his hair out after meeting an eight year-old child with cancer who was bald due to chemo therapy. He planned to donate it to Locks of Love, a non profit organization that provides donated hair for financially disadvantaged children suffering from any illness that yields hair loss. Donating hair helps lift the child’s confidence and self esteem during their turbulent illness.
“If you care about something you have to act on it. You can’t just talk about it,” Danny said.
Students were surprised to see Danny’s new hairdo when he walked into school Monday, and many were impressed when they heard about his cause.
“It’s really cool of him to do this because usually you hear about girls doing this. I’ve never heard of a guy donating his hair,” said Rina Reich (11th grade).
Other students agree. “Donating his hair is very courageous. It takes guts for a guy to do this,” said Michal Cohen (11th).
This act was no “hairway” to heaven. Initially there were issues with the school’s administration because the school handbook states that students can not wear hairstyles that are not approved by the administration. The administration was wary for this very reason. Because he was doing this for a worthy cause, the administration allowed him to grow it out with the following guidelines: he had to wear it in a ponytail, it always had to appear neat, and wear a kippa at all times.
According to Judaic Principal Rabbi Assaraf, some parents complained after the student panel on Open House day for incoming high school students, one of them stating that they were, “extremely offended that we were to allow the student council president to represent the school with such a hairstyle…he shouldn’t be the face of the school.” The administration defended Danny and his cause, even though several parents continued to object to his hairstyle.
“We’re a school that hears our students. We don’t always mold to their liking, but [we] are open minded and try to take it all into consideration,” said Rabbi Assaraf.
Eventually, the school gave Danny a form of an ultimatum. “Either cut it [now], or pick a day to cut it,” Danny said the administration told him. After a year and a half of growing, it was finally cut on Sunday, February 5th at a barber shop on 71st street.
“Already, showers are definitely shorter,” said Danny, who will continue to use Dove Men’s Shampoo on his shorter style. “But, I do feel like I’ve lost strength and wisdom when I cut my hair off. My friends tell me they no longer refer to me as ‘the wise one’ anymore.”
Students and faculty alike seem to appreciate the new look.
“He looks less like Jon Snow and more like a nice Jewish boy,” said Rabbi Ney. “But I do miss his glorious locks.”
They’re also inspired by his act of kindness. “He put in so much time for this, devoted so much,” said Shmuel Kahn (12th grade). “Danny has touched all of our hearts.”
A similar hair cut event occurred on Thursday, halfway across the world in the Holy Land of Israel. Samson Schiff (class of 2016), Hebrew Academy Alumni, is currently studying in Yeshivat Orayta. After growing his hair out for six months, Samson decided to cut it.
Samson shared, “There is an idea that hair allows one to connect with the deeper meaning of themselves and those around them. Cutting one’s hair would make you think that that deep connection would go away, but no. It’s said that the connection still stands because the connection was made, and like Torah which is a fire and once you share it you lose nothing from it, the fire in the connection to everyone is always lit.”
By: Aliza Posner (12th grade)