On July 31, 2018, Maccabi Youth Games athletes participated in a Tikkun Olam activity. Tikkun Olam means “repair the world,” doing something that can help others. This is often referred to as a “Mitzvot” meaning a good dead.
The entire delegation of the Maccabi Youth Games visited Shalva, the world’s largest and most advanced facility dedicated to the care and treatment of disabled people of all ages regardless of their religion, race, or ability to pay. Shalva empowers the families of the disabled and promotes social inclusion. It teaches that everyone matters, regardless of their physical abilities. The organization provides an all-encompassing range of services for 2,000 individuals with disabilities from infancy to adulthood as well as their families. On an ongoing basis, Shalva’s programs offer a host of therapies, inclusive education frameworks, sports and wellness, recreational activities, as well as respite, and family support.
On our visit to Shalva we were accompanied by athletes from Argentina and Canada. We spent time with the children doing a variety of activities, including basketball, arts and crafts, singing songs and dancing, even just throwing a ball around with them. Nothing was better than seeing a big smile on these kids’ faces as athletes and coaches from around the world came to visit them.
One memory that everyone took from the visit was meeting Yossi, a deaf and blind man who was born perfectly healthy until a vaccine made him sick. Yossi suffers the same disabilities as Helen Keller once did, and the only way for him to understand someone is for them to write the letters on his hand. All the athletes I spoke to left Shalva, having felt they did something to “repair” the world and with the hope they could do more to help others in the future.