5th annual swimathon in the Kinneret
5th annual swimathon in the KinneretLeora Ben David

More than 300 women participated on Friday in the 5th annual Women's Sadnat Shiluv BeEmunah Swimathon in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

Participants included women of all ages, from 10 to 80, from Israel as well as from Europe, Australia, the United States, Canada, and South Africa.

Sadnat Shiluv (Mainstreaming Workshop) is a unique residential project for young adults with special needs which is located in the young community of Gvaot in Gush Etzion.

Preparation for Friday’s swimathon began on Thursday evening, with a special dinner, a workshop on women's empowerment and the screening of a video describing the activities of the Sadnat Shiluv.

Vivienne Glaser, who initiated the first swimathon five years ago, and who continues to be a part of the event every year, said, "It was amazing. The weather was wonderful and so was the water temperature. It was unique because the event conveys a message of community service alongside female empowerment. We saw girls who have been taking swimming lessons for months so they could participate, young women with Down syndrome or women with difficult life stories who take part in the swimathon to send a message of victory and empowerment.”

Among the participants in the swimathon were several girls who are celebrating their bat mitzvah and who asked to attend the event as a “gift”.

Proceeds from this year’s swimathon are going towards a new visitor’s center to be operated by the participants of Sadnat Shiluv.

The center will allow the participants to enter the workforce and express their skills, thus taking another step in their integration into the community.

"Sadnat Shiluv is a source of pride to all the residents of Gush Etzion,” said the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Davidi Perl. “It is a unique framework which over the years has become a role model for communities and institutions all over the country. The swimathon is a manifestation of the will of the community to embrace and incorporate children and adults with special needs. It is a great pride to be part of such a society and this is an opportunity to also thank all the wonderful women and families from Israel and abroad who took part in this special day."

Photos: Leora Ben David