Sometimes being a superhero doesn’t have anything to do with a cape. Not to say that capes aren’t fashionable, but everyday superheroes seem to be changing the world without them.
Superman Samuel Sommer showed us all what a true superhero looks like. In 2012, Sam was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Since his diagnosis, many from our community have kept up with his story through his mother’s blog “Superman Samuel”. This past November, at eight-years-old, Samuel lost his battle with leukemia- but not before proving that he did indeed have super powers.
SUPER POWER #1: THE POWER TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER
Not only did Superman Sam rally more than 50 Reform Rabbi’s to shave their heads in support of St. Baldrick’s and bring a community together through laughter and love, but his powers reached all the way to West Coast Party. Because of him, 400 teens and 100 young adults came together at URJ Camp Newman to pray and dance at our Dance-A-Thon fundraiser to show support for, not only Sam’s family, but for other families who are fighting that same battle. The community we created in only three days was full of ruach (spirit), deep emotional connections and a strong desire to change the world.
SUPER POWER #2: THE POWER TO INSPIRE OTHERS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Because of Superman Sam, the teens learned how to “Pray With Their Feet: Making Change One Step at a Time”. Over the course of the weekend, they raised nearly $10,000 for St. Baldrick’s Foundation- an organization committed to finding a cure for pediatric cancer.
SUPER POWER #3: THE POWER TO SPREAD THE LIGHT OF HOPE
Several days following West Coast Party, Camp Newman received the following email:
“My name is June. I was a Solel camper back in the seventies. Today, I am a 51 year old mother of a pediatric cancer survivor. Our daughter, Emily, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in December of 2011. She finished treatment in August 2012. She endured 18 grueling chemotherapy treatments and a 10 hour surgery on Purim day in March of 2012, wherein 7 inches of her right tibia was removed and replaced with donor bone. She is now 17 months post chemo. Emily is has no evidence of cancer in her body. She is a high school senior and she is on her way to NYU in the fall. Emily was a 2013 national ambassador for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. A friend, whose daughter was recently a Camp Newman camper forwarded the news to me of Camp Newman’s dance-a-thon and support of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
I am moved. I am grateful. I am proud. Todah Rabah.
(Solel ’77 and ’78)”
Superman Sam’s legacy lives through not only those who knew him personally, but through the impact his memory and story continue to make in the fight to end childhood cancer.
West Coast Party: A biennial three day retreat held at URJ Camp Newman in conjunction with NFTY for teens from all over the west coast.
URJ Camp Newman: A Reform Jewish sleep-away summer camp and year-round retreat center in the hills of Santa Rosa, CA for ages 7 to 17. Camp Newman is one of 14 summer camps affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism.
URJ (Union for Reform Judaism):A network of lay leaders, congregations, and clergy who work to instill Jewish values into our modern world.
NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth): A North American movement for Reform Jewish high school teens to work together at year-round retreats and events.
St. Baldrick’s Foundation: An organization committed to finding a cure for childhood cancer and helping survivors live full and happy lives.