Sadnat Shiluv encourages maximum integration of special people into the community. It works with children from kindergarten and elementary school until young adulthood. Currently, its only hostel houses six young adults and offers them a place to live, work, study and lead an independent life while being an active part of the Rosh Tzurim community. Vivienne has made it her personal goal to try to build another two hostels.
The Early Bird...
Our day began at 5 AM with so much activity and excitement that the birds in the palm trees must have been checking their watches in disbelief.
After registration and a quick cup of coffee, swimmers immediately waded into the Kinneret. Unfortunately with the drastic drop in the level of the lake, the swimmers had to walk quite a distance until the water's edge, but there were no complaints. In fact, many of the women explained that swimming the Kinneret had been a lifelong dream for them.
About five water police boats floated along with the swimmers in order to keep everyone safe and swimming in the right direction. (It's a big watery Kinneret out there.) Safety precautions were observed to the "T". The women wore a colorful bathing cap - red, yellow or blue - so that boats could keep track of each swimmer.
By 6:15 AM, some women just put on their goggles and started stroking their way across the Kinneret.They said, "Oooh, it's cold!" Others entered the water with fins, others with hand paddles or kick boards. Many had chocolate and other energy pick-me ups tied in plastic bags on to their bathing straps. When they got tired, they popped for a moment on their bags and had a nosh. (That was a real surprise for me.) One swimmer said that as she made a stroke, her hand touched a bag of chocolate just floating in the water. She thought, "Thanks for the treat, Kinneret!", and enjoyed the delicious surprise. Some women said they were singing with each other. Others were just gliding along enjoying the serenity of the melding of the sea and the sky.
By 8:18 AM the first swimmers were climbing on to the beach at Tzemach, as the welcoming committee and volunteers cheered. The swimmers pronounced the swim, "Fabulous," "Unbelievable," "Magnificent," every superlative you can guess. "Perfect," they said. The water was perfectly still. The temperature was perfect for swimming. The women who participated were perfectly wonderful.
After the Swim and lunch, Vivienne handed out certificates to all the participants. Their sense of accomplishment was very great, and the certificates were the icing on the Kinneret Cake.
Kudos to Women's Kinneret Swim founder Vivienne Glaser, whose hakarat hatov (thanks) to Shadnat Shiluv was the impetus for this event. Appreciation to the organizing team, including Yechiel Fishman, Nina Alon, Joanna Shreiber, and Liz Pushett. And to the women of all ages from all over Israel and beyond, who came to make the Swim a big splash - you are all terrific.
You can still make a donation - http://www.israelgives.org/ (write in Sadnat Shiluv).