by Meira Bienstock
With the ambitious goal of swimming across the Sea of Galilee, Eyal Feldman, an Israeli-American born in Petah Tikva and raised in Los Angeles, is taking a stand to earn money for Jewish and gay senior citizens on Thursday.
Feldman is hoping to swim 10 kilometers from shore to shore against the current in the course of three hours, averaging 2 miles per hour.
The earnings will be donated to JHA, the Jewish Home for the Aging in Los Angeles – a nonprofit organization dedicated to the security and wellness of Jewish seniors – as well as SAGE (Seniors Active in a Gay Environment), the world’s oldest and largest nonprofit agency serving gay, lesbian and transgender seniors.
In just one month, Feldman reached his goal of raising $3,000 for the organizations, and donations are still pouring in.
“We [my family] remain strongly connected with Israel and the Israeli community in the States, and I was taught to embrace tzedaka, always looking to support the charities that we love,” Feldman told The Jerusalem Post.
“I feel that swimming in Israel will not only help me raise money for my favorite organizations, but I can share this amazing experience with my family, who will be by my side supporting me while I swim across the Kinneret,” he added. “It is my own way of contributing some good and positive news about Israel, so it is a winwin for everyone involved.”
Feldman is ecstatic to be back in Israel, which he has visited every summer.
“I’m terribly excited, and I think it’s more important to raise money for the elderly, no matter what identity,” he said. “The more I work with the elderly, the more important I see what I can learn from them. They are the treasure of history and knowledge.”
Many of the elderly at JHA are Holocaust survivors.
One woman was in the Jewish resistance in Ukraine during World War II and fought against the Nazis. She also fought in Israel’s War of Independence.
Although Feldman has not told the JHA residents about his marathon, the staff there thinks his mission is very admirable.
“Volunteering with the elderly helped me to get in touch with that little swimming Jewish activist and volunteer inside me that was bent on tikkun olam, and what better or more meaningful place can that be done than in Israel?” asserted Feldman.