A Day At The Pool
By Samantha Dubrinsky,
BJF Director of Community Impact
Lately, I have been exploring the Levite Jewish Community Center’s indoor pool. I’ve never really been a fan of indoor pools (to me, the fun of swimming is being outside in the sun), but I have also never used swimming as a form of exercise until a recent spinal surgery.
Swimming is so peaceful. The indoor pool at the LJCC is quiet (unless you’re there when swim lessons are happening) and swimmers move at their own pace. As trite as it might sound, it has become my little sanctuary, a time to reflect on whatever is on my mind.
However, after Thursday, I’ll never think of my swimming sessions the same way.
Operation Lifeshield is an organization that provides protective shelters to those in range of rocket fire in Israel. It is a great organization that the Birmingham Jewish Federation has funded for years. In fact, if you ever go to Israel, we can point you to a few of the shelters that donors associated with the BJF have made possible.
Operation Lifeshield Executive Director Rabbi Shmuel Bowman is in Birmingham currently, making his yearly visit and educating our community on ways his organization is making Israel safer. While Operation Lifeshield primarily places shelters wherever they are needed, it also provides other safety measures.
One example of these additional safety measures is the technology used on a building in Sderot, which is located in the south of Israel and a target of rocket fire over the years. It houses a hydrotherapy pool that helps those recovering from spinal injuries. Essentially, this is a different type of physical therapy.
Rabbi Bowman explained that in Sderot, where the population has less than 15 seconds to find shelter once a rocket targeting them has been fired from the nearby Gaza Strip, getting out of a pool during physical therapy and making it to a shelter is nearly impossible. It’s additionally difficult for those who are recovering from an injury.
With the help of the American company 3M, Operation Lifeshield was able to reinforce the windows surrounding the pool. In the case of rocket fire, getting out of the pool in time to save their life will no longer be on the minds of those recovering. This is amazing technology that allows for an easier way of life for these Israelis who are in the line of fire.
As soon as Rabbi Bowman explained this (Rabbi Bowman and I both share a love of swimming, by the way), I started thinking about what I’m worried about when I go for a swim. My friends. My family. Recovering from an injury and the frustrations that go along with it. My day at work. None of those worries even come close to what those in Sderot experience.
I am heading to the pool as soon as I finish writing this Update story and I know what I’ll be thinking about during my swim. I’m grateful that not only do I not have the worry of rocket fire looming over me, but also I am grateful that we at the BJF are able to make a difference in the lives of those Israelis through Operation Lifeshield.