April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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My Kinneret Swim for Sadna

The rocks cut into my feet, as I labored to walk into the rough, shallow waters tossing me about the Kinneret. This was a test run with my husband who would not be by my side the next day for the big women’s-only swim. I grabbed for Shmuel as I lost my balance and heard him shout the words, “this is insane,” echoing my exact thoughts. I rethought my resolution to swim the Kinneret the next morning… maybe this was just too much for me to undertake. Then I thought about where I was, surrounded by Israelis who never questioned their abilities and their determination. Their 18 year olds go through the difficulties of army training, sacrificing years of their youth, without complaints. Mothers are left worrying about husbands, sons and daughters on the front lines… Deadly attacks on innocent children, men and women are too often… and as the families mourn they remarkably inspire others.

I might not be young, but I could at least try my best, and not give up without an effort to fulfill my commitment. I had raised over double the amount I was committed to raise through the support of family and friends. It was humbling to see this outpouring of generosity and encouragement. The dozens of notes of support from friends and family aided in my resolve, one especially bringing me to tears with the words, “Judy, it’s wonderful what you are doing. Go with strength and know we are rooting for you and this great cause.”

The Kinneret was calm in the early morning. I was grateful that I had decided to stay and try my best. I davened on the stone walkway overlooking the Jordanian mountains and the glistening Kinneret. Each woman was numbered as we checked in and then en masse entered the cool waters over the stumbling rocks, aiding each other as we gingerly walked into the shallow waters until it was deep enough to begin our long swim. I was stunned by the strength of the current and the waves, actually having been naive enough to assume that I would be swimming a long distance in a lake… but this was more like an ocean. I attempted to swim my crawl, but kept being pulled into the wrong direction and found the only stroke I could swim and not waste my energy was the breaststroke, probably my least favorite, but a useful stroke. I loved watching the surrounding mountains and scenery. My greatest delight was watching the white birds fluttering above and around me, groups of five or seven or 10, dazzling in the morning light. The evening before the last one had been Yom Yerushalayim and the sound and light show on the Old City Walls had pictured this scene of the birds, dodging and darting and glistening, and here I was thrilled to see this graceful dance of the birds actually take place above me as I swam. Hundreds of women, bobbing in their bright yellow swim caps, were swimming towards the far away opposite shore heading to what I soon came to focus on, a blue and white building. I thought about the fact that I enjoy putting my love for swim to such a great purpose.

Over 10 years earlier, my husband and I swam the Hudson River in a Pete Seeger-sponsored swim to raise funds to clean up the Hudson and to create a pool on the Hudson River by Beacon New York. Now here I was, swimming the Kinneret in a women’s-only swim, to raise funds for a cause so close to my heart, for a mixed community in Israel for those with special needs. A couple of days later I actually had the privilege to visit Sadna in the Gush. It is a safe and protected community for individuals with various special needs, with a farm, a woodshop comparable to Kibbutz Lavi, a kitchen to teach restaurant skills and make cheeses and food for the community and a cafe that the residents operate. The residents grow up in this community and the staff know them well and strive to help them develop to the best of their ability. The staff live with the residents and everyone walks around with pride and smiles. The surrounding community houses families raising their children in a very desirable neighborhood in the Gush. It is something everyone everywhere should emulate. Here there is a social life and activities and responsibilities and a sense of purpose for all, no matter the ability or disability.

Yes, I completed my 2 ¾ hour swim across the Kinneret. The pictures of me coming out of the water are amazing, with me actually glowing! I didn’t feel tired, just exhilarated. The hundreds of other women, from secular to Charedi, young and old, all had that similar look of euphoria. The founder and organizer of this eight-year-old event, Vivienne Glaser, swam with four generations: her mother, her daughter and her granddaughter. It was an honor to be part of this remarkable event and I am so grateful to Hakodesh Barechu for my being able to do this swim. So many parts of the puzzle had to come together to make this a reality. I am so grateful they did.

To find out more info or to donate, please go to http://sadnat-shiluv.co.il/ or https://swim4sadna.org/?lang=en#/home.

Judy Davidovics lives in Englewood. She is the proud and loving mother and grandmother to her growing mishpacha. On her last visit when she completed this swim she went to Israel to meet her newest sabra, Baruch Hashem, Tehila Esther. She is a passionate Israeli dance teacher, having taught thousands of children, women and men, and actually met her husband over 47 years ago Israeli dancing.

 By Judy Davidovics

 

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