(photo credit: Jonathan Bloom)
Kaplan Medical Center is asking for donations of hair to create "artificial sidecurls" (payot) for hassidic men and boys and wigs for women and girls of all backgrounds who undergo chemotherapy for cancer and lose their hair.
The veteran hairdresser Eli Ben-Zikri has opened a new hair salon inside the Rehovot hospital on a voluntary basis to collect donated hair in all colors that can be turned in sidecurls and wigs.
Anyone who wants to donate their long tresses will get a free haircut in the hospital salon, said Ben-Zikri, who has himself recovered from cancer.
He had met a young woman in the hospital who lost her hair to chemotherapy and couldn't afford to buy a wig to cover her bald head. He managed to give her a free wig that, he said, "gave her the strength to go on." But his salon has a shortage of hair to make wigs and sidecurls.
He personally suits the donor hair to the patients; once they have theirs, he washes, sets and maintains the wigs and sidecurls, all at no cost. Ben-Zikri also invites other hairdressers and barbers who want experience working in the field to come to his salon in Kaplan, learn and give of their time.
Hospital director-general Dr. Ya'acov Yahav said that when asked for permission to approve the project, he didn't have to think twice. Cancer patients' feelings about themselves and the way they look affects their ability to fight their disease, he said.