CHICAGO (CBS) — A group of 76 rabbis is going bald to raise money for pediatric cancer research, and in honor of “Superman Sam” Sommer, an 8-year-old boy who died of leukemia in December.

WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports the first up for the clippers on Tuesday were Sam’s parents, rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer, who helped chronicle his two-year fight with acute myeloid leukemia on his blog, Superman Sam.

“We tried really hard not to scare him, and not to think too hard about what was going to happen,” his mother said. “We had to tell him that he was going to die, and it was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had to have with anybody, ever, in my whole life.”

Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr helped organize Tuesday’s mass head-shaving as part of St. Baldrick’s, during the Conference of American Rabbis at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park hotel.

Among those losing their hair were 13 women, who might miss their locks a bit more than the men.

“For our women colleagues, it is more of a commitment, because we live in a society that judges us based on how we look,” Schorr said. “While it’s sexy for a man to be bald, for women it typically symbolizes some type of illness.”

She said the conference has raised $540,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money every year around St. Patrick’s Day by organizing head-shaving events designed to show solidarity with cancer patients, who often lose their hair due to chemotherapy and radiation treatment.