Hannah Widawer, 12, has wanted to donate her hair to charity for the past few years as part of a project she’s working on in preparation for her bat mitzvah next October. Part of her bat mitzvah training includes donating her time to a charity as a way to understand the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, or to “Repair the World.” But rather than simply cut her hair at a salon and send it off impersonally to the charity, Widawer wanted to involve her community in her project.
“Part of what I need to do for my bat mitzvah project is inform people about the charity I’ve chosen, what I’m doing for my project, and get others involved, too. So I thought I would help organize a big event that a lot of people could come to. My mom is helping me with this project, and we’re going to ask my friends, family and members of the community to participate as well,” Widawer said.
Widawer decided several years ago that she wanted to give her hair to a girl who had lost her own hair because of either cancer or a medical condition called alopecia areata. She chose Locks of Love because they make wigs out of donated hair. But the project now has even more significance for Widawer because of the recent loss of her grandmother to cancer. “I lost my grandma in June 2009. Her name was Martha Widawer. She started chemotherapy but it didn’t work. She bought a wig but never got to use it, so I’m doing my bat mitzvah project in her memory.”
The project has also grown in scope from its original size. “We originally were just going to challenge Hannah’s friends to donate their hair along with her,” said Marlene Widawer, Hannah’s mother. “But a few months ago, I got the idea to get a local hair salon involved in order to expand interest in the event and to help a local business at the same time.” Debi Dodgson and Mary Merrill, the owners of Salon Oases in Woodland Hills where the event will take place, have agreed to be the Widawers’ partners on this project. Salon Oases is providing the venue. The elder Widawer, who is active at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, is the former PTA President at Justice Street School in West Hills and was a co-leader for Hannah’s Girl Scout troop, plans to reach out to her synagogue, school and Girl Scout communities as well. “This event is open to the entire community. We hope to collect enough hair and/or financial donations to make at least 18 hairpieces.