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500 women to join in Sea of Galilee ‘swimathon’ to help others

Judean rehabilitation facility Sadnat Shiluv works to enrich the lives of youth and adults with special needs.

A view of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, April 9, 2024. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.
A view of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, April 9, 2024. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.

Some 500 women of all ages from Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom will partake in the 14th Annual Swim4Sadna Sea of Galilee Swimathon on Friday morning to raise funds for a rehabilitation center in Judea.

The women will choose the two-kilometer (1.2 miles) or four-kilometer (2.5 miles) routes, both ending in the Jordan River Park.

This year, participants are raising money to expand a rehabilitation daycare center for youth and adults with special needs who do not currently have a supportive framework appropriate to their needs.

Sadnat Shiluv, located in the western Gush Etzion community of Gevaot, seeks to enrich the lives of youth and adults with special needs by providing them with medical and paramedical therapies and services, including occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

Vivienne Glaser, the mother of Elchi, a Sadnat Shiluv resident for 24 years, started the Kinneret Swimathon 15 years ago and continues to organize it. (The Kinneret is the Hebrew name for the Sea of Galilee.)

“It was a tough decision to go ahead this year,” she said in reference to the Hamas war. “But the Sadna desperately needs to build this new daycare center, so, with all the limitations, it seemed the right thing to do.”

Glaser said “many women were delighted to have this opportunity to channel their positive energy to do good for others. We view our swimmers as ambassadors who, in an amazing ripple effect, share with their family and friends all that Sadnat Shiluv has to offer.”

The organizer added that “some very courageous women who have faced unspeakable tragedy during the current war are joining the swim this year, as well as a group of young women from Sadnat Shiluv, who are a source of inspiration for the other swimmers.”

Channy Leiter, a resident of Samaria whose son Noam is part of Sadnat Shiluv, has been participating in the Swimathon for the past 12 years.

“As a recently bereaved mother, I didn’t feel like doing it this year,” she said. Leiter’s eldest son, Maj. (res.) Moshe Yedidyah Leiter, was killed fighting against Hamas terrorists in northern Gaza late last year.

“But I knew it would be good for me. It’s a win-win event with wonderful vibes. … It gives strength and energy to the participants and is obviously for a wonderful cause,” said Leiter.

Shira Schreier, swimming for the 13th year, said: “It is a privilege to help raise money for Sadnat Shiluv. I encourage everyone to visit there, especially the café, nestled in a breathtaking pine forest, where the delicious food is prepared and served by Sadnat Shiluv residents.”

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