Shave a Redhead for Israel!

UPDATE [2/2/2011]: The shaving is done! Photos are here, and here’s a video. They’re also embedded below.

UPDATE [2/2/2011]: The CJP sent me the list of people who donated to my campaign through them, and there was one donation that I didn’t know about, so the fundraiser total is now up to $3,927.

UPDATE [12/22/2010]: I just discovered a $270 donation that I missed in all the craziness of the last day of the fundraiser. The total amount I raised now stands at $3,909.

UPDATE [12/19/2010]: Ben Bresky of Israel National Radio has just released an interview about my fundraiser. Enjoy!

UPDATE [12/14/2010]: Thanks to an incredible outpouring of generosity, my week-long fundraiser has raised $3,639 for Israeli fire relief efforts. $2,499 was donated directly to various organizations, and I’ll be delivering the other $1,140 to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies next week.

Furthermore, as promised, I’ll be shaving my head and half of my beard and mustache. My coworkers at Advent Software, Inc., who were quite generous during the fundraiser, insisted that I do the shaving at our annual kick-off meeting in Boston in January 2011. Let me know if you want to come watch. Don’t worry, I’ll post photos and videos afterward!

Thank you so much to everyone who supported my fundraiser, and to everyone who has contributed to fire relief efforts through other channels. It’s not to late to donate! See the links below for a number of organizations accepting donations. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of money to recover fully from the fire, so any help you can give will be very much appreciated.

All of us watched with dismay the news flowing out of Israel about the terrible Carmel forest fire which killed 42 people, destroyed homes and towns, and devastated 12,300 acres of forest, including trees over a hundred years old.

If a fire proportionately that size had occurred in the United States, it would have consumed the entire state of Massachusetts and killed almost 2,000 people.

The fire is out, but Israel and its people face daunting recovery challenges now and into the foreseeable future. Victims’ families need assistance, towns and homes need to be rebuilt, forests need to be replanted, and Israel needs increase its firefighting readiness so it can respond faster in the future. All of this is going to cost a great deal of money.

There are many causes demanding your attention at this time of year — every charity wants to be your end-of-year tax deduction! — and many end-of-year expenses as well. But this can’t wait. The people and land of Israel need your help, and they need it now.

The fire and its aftermath have struck a chord with me. I want to encourage those of you who haven’t yet donated to the relief effort to do so, and those of you who’ve donated already to maybe give a little more, so I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse:

Raised so far: [show_ourprogress]

If I raise $1,800 in donations by December 14, I will shave off my fiery red hair. With just a small donation to help put out the fire in Israel, you can help put out the fire on my head as well! Not only that, but video and photos of the shaving will be published online for all to enjoy.

I’ve never particularly wanted to be bald. I like my hair just the way it is, thank you very much. But be honest with yourself: you know you’d get a kick out of seeing me with no hair. Now’s your chance to contribute to a good cause and get some serious entertainment value in the bargain. How could you possibly say no?

But wait, there’s more…

  • If I raise $3,600, I’ll shave my head and half of my beard and mustache. Just imagine your cathartic laughter every time you think of what I look like with no hair and half a beard!
  • If I raise $5,400, I’ll shave my head, half of my beard and mustache, and the opposite eyebrow. Oh, the abject hilarity!

Some guys look good bald. And then there’s me.

“OK, Jon, I’m convinced. Where do I sign up?”

There are four ways to participate:

  1. Donate to the Haifa Emergency Relief Fund of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. In the “Comments or special instructions” box, ask them to send an acknowledgment of the donation to [email protected]. Also, when you receive the donation confirmation from them, forward it to me at that address.
  2. Donate to any other non-profit organization fund-raising for the relief effort (e.g., the OU, ARZA, the JNF, the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore). When you donate, ask them to send an acknowledgment to [email protected] if that’s an option, and when you receive confirmation of your donation, forward it to me.
  3. Hand me cash or a check in person, and I’ll send it to the CJP at the end of the fund-raiser.
  4. Click the following button to send me your donation via Paypal. At the end of the fund-raiser, I will forward all donations, less any Paypal fees (donate from a bank account to avoid them!), to the CJP.

MANDATORY FINE PRINT: I am not a representative or agent of the CJP. I have not been authorized by the CJP to fund-raise on its behalf. You can not take a tax deduction or get your employer to match any contributions made through me via cash, check, or Paypal. The CJP and I both strongly encourage you to use the first or second option listed above. However, if for whatever reason you feel uncomfortable doing so, I will be happy to pass on to the CJP any money you give me (less Paypal fees), as long as you keep in mind that as far as the U.S. tax code is concerned, it’s not a charitable contribution.

[My fundraiser is over, so please send donations directly to your non-profit organization of choice, not to me.]

The shaving is done! Photos:


I suppose if you don’t personally know me, you’ll be wanting a preview of what you’ll be getting for your money. Well, here I am with all my hair:

With a little imagination, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s worth a few bucks to see my bald and with half a beard and only one eyebrow!

So, what are you waiting for?

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10 thoughts on “Shave a Redhead for Israel!

  1. Pingback: Google AdWords is staffed by poorly trained monkeys « Something better to do

  2. JonT

    So, how do you shave your head and part of your beard without shaving your sideburns? I know that we’re not allowed to shave our sideburns above the cheekbone, but what’s the upper limit of what we’re not allowed to shave? Does it go all the way up the side of your head, or what?

    1. jik Post author

      I hold by the opinion that the prohibition against shaving the payot and beard apply only to using a razor. I won’t be letting anybody near my scalp or face with a razor :-), but rather will be “shaving” with a trimmer, so the prohibition does not apply.

      That is to say, halachically speaking, none of my hair will actually be “shaved,” it will just be cut extremely short.

      1. JonT

        I guess I need to go and learn then. I’m of course familiar with the concept of using a trimmer or electric shaver to shave one’s beard, so as to avoid using a razor on one’s face (I’ve done it in the past, and would consider doing it again if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d have to do it every day). But I was under the impression that payot were a different matter, and had to be left a bit longer (how much longer varies, with some people trimming them quite short but still visible — say 1/4 inch or so, and others leaving them very long).

        1. jik Post author

          As I understand it, the Talmud (Makkot 20b) says that the rule of payot is that you aren’t allowed to cut the hair at the temples to leave a straight hairline from behind the ears to the forehead. I was taught that this means, basically, that at a minimum, your hair needs to dip a little bit in front of your ear. My parents usually had the barber cut my hair about 1/4 inch below where my ear meets my head, thus making it impossible for there to be a straight hairline there.

          However, this assumes that you have a hairline. A bald man has no hairline, and ergo by definition has no straight hairline from behind the ears to the forehead.

          Furthermore, it seems clear to me that the prohibitions on shaving the head / trimming the beard / not cutting the payot have been interpreted in widely varying ways throughout history. What I am planning on doing next month would fall well within the range of what has at some point been considered acceptable.

          I wouldn’t choose to do this just for the heck of it (and not only for religious reasons, obviously!), but for a good cause, not to mention fulfilling what was essentially an oath (although of course not one taken beshaym hashem), I am comfortable with it.

          1. JonT

            Thanks for the info! And yasher coach (or however you spell it) for raising the funds.

        2. Aram

          Is there a prohibition about using fire instead of a razor? I think we can manage to do things very quickly Michael Jackson style with a little hairspray prep and a handy fire extinguisher! I’d be happy to help!


    2. jik Post author

      For the record, Jen says I’m wrong and I have to leave a patch of hair unshaved in front of my ear to avoid being over on cutting my payos.

  3. Merril

    Yes, this is worth a few bucks even though we were planning on donating anyway!


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