On Monday, Ithaca College Hillel hosted its annual Shoshana Rudnick Inch-a-thon, a fundraiser that supports cancer patients by collecting money and hair to be used for wigs. Students and faculty paid ten dollars for a haircut or donated eight or more inches of hair to receive a free haircut.
The Inch-a-thon began in 2005 by Ithaca College alumna Shoshana Rudnick. Since then, it has become one of Hillel’s largest fundraisers. Social Justice Chair, Marisa Rosenberg, worked to organize the event.
“Shoshana wanted to do something that had to do with fundraising and cancer research,” she said, “So that’s what we continue to do.”
The money that is raised from the event is donated to Sharsheret, a national not-for-profit organization that supports young Jewish women and their families facing breast cancer. Hair is then donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths to be made into real-hair wigs for women with cancer. This year, the Inch-a-thon raised over $800, with 112 people participating in the fundraiser.
Hillel Senior Engagement Associate Kayla Reisman worked alongside Rosenberg in planning the event.
“I think it’s something we really value as a Jewish community,” Reisman said, “This is a cause that a lot of people in our community feel passionately about and it’s a way that we can give back.”
Reisman has donated her hair three times prior to this year’s Inch-a-thon event. Her father is a cancer survivor and four of her aunts have battled breast cancer.
“It’s something that I care about and something personal to my family,” she said. “Donating my hair is especially personal because all of my aunts wore wigs when they were going through chemo.”
Rachel Barone, a sophomore Environmental Studies major, heard of the event on campus and decided to chop ten inches off her locks.
“Everybody takes their hair for granted,” said Barone, “It’s like an everyday thing to wake up in the morning and brush your hair. But for some people that’s not an option.”
For Barone, donating her hair will give cancer patients the opportunity to have more security and increase their self-confidence.
“If we can do that just by donating something that we would just throw away if we cut off anyways, I think that’s a great cause,” she said.
Igor Khokhlov, the executive director of Hillel, stresses the importance of serving people in need. Whether it is those who are struggling health wise or financially, or just a larger community that needs visibility and advocacy, one of the goals of Hillel is repairing the world.
“It’s an inherent Jewish value,” he said, “Inch-a-thon is something unique to Ithaca College and this is our commitment to improving our society together with other organizations.”
In Jewish tradition, there are morals of Tzedkah, or charity. Hillel advocates the importance of giving aid, assistance and money to the poor and needy. The Inch-a-thon proves to do just this.
“I think its important to give back in any little way we can every day,” Barone said, “I thought this was a good opportunity to do that.”