Message from the founder

Debbie Shapiro

It has been almost five years since I received my diagnosis, and yet I remember the exact moment as if it were yesterday. After telling me that I had Parkinson’s disease, my physician handed me a prescription and told me to schedule a follow-up appointment in three months. While he had given me the diagnosis and had been there in a supportive role as a clinician, I still felt lost and alone, my life changed with a few simple words. I was shocked, not knowing what to do or who to turn to. Yet, even with this life-changing news, I knew that I had to pick myself up and fight, and so I spent the next few months researching what I could do to help myself.

I soon began speaking to people who like myself had received this life-changing diagnosis. Many were struggling with shame and embarrassment, confining themselves to their home and socially isolating themselves out of the fear of being humiliated by the way they appeared and how their actions appeared to others. Even doing simple tasks such as eating became a chore and a source of embarrassment, especially in a public setting. This caused many of the people that I met to stop being active, as the less active they were the less they would be embarrassed. What most of them didn’t know was the fact that decreased activity causes the disease to progress at a rapid pace. Even those afflicted and willing to fight back against the shame and the harms of inactivity were frustrated by the lack of resources available to them, especially in greater Jerusalem.

With over 10,000 people in Jerusalem affected by Parkinson’s disease and the lack of resources to help support their battle, I was motivated to do something about it. I created a program that teaches people about the importance of fighting the disease and provides them with the resources they need to help them win their individual battles.

Tikvah is the Hebrew word for hope, and it is my vision that this organization will engender hope in those in whom all hope has been lost. It is our goal to inspire and equip those afflicted with Parkinson’s with the tools and support that they need to overcome all of the challenges that go along with this disease. Our program provides a community for those who need it, to ensure that no one feels that they must fight their battle alone.

 Although the program respects the guidelines of the religious Jewish community, we welcome everyone with open arms irrespective of race, religion, or creed. It is my vision, that we can one day live in a world free from Parkinson’s disease, and the shame and challenges that it brings. I urge you to come join this wonderful organization and support our fight against Parkinson’s disease!

Debbie Shapiro
Founder, Tikvah for Parkinson