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Aug 8 2012

Aly Raisman: Our Golden Jewish Gymnast

By at 10:04 am

aly raisman jewish hava nagila floor routine gold london olympicsWe can–and should–all kvell over Aly Raisman today.

Not just because the 18-year-old American is a truly amazing gymnast–her teammates like the young phenoms Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber also can claim that title. But Aly Raisman is, in the parlance of our Jewish people, an “aishet chayil“–a woman of valor.

Traditional Jewish families sing the song “Aishet Chayil” to the woman of the house on Friday evenings as they welcome in Shabbat, praising the lady of the house for all the work she does. But I’m going to take it a step further and say that a woman of valor is far more than someone who makes the dinners and sets the tables–it’s someone who sets an example by way of her actions.

And in that, Raisman took the gold in more ways than one.

It would have been enough, if you will, if Raisman had only performed her floor routine to the Jewish standard “Hava Nagila,” making it clear that she takes pride in her Jewish heritage. It would have been enough if she’d “only” won three medals to take home for Team USA with her hard work and amazing athleticism.

aly raisman gold medal floor routineBut yesterday, she took special note that she had won her gold on the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre, in which Palestinian terrorists brutally murdered the Israeli Olympic team–and in doing so, won another gold in my mind for empathy, for the people of Israel, and for truth.

She stood up for what she believed in, using her international podium to proclaim that she would have supported a moment of silence on behalf of the slaughtered athletes. She took a determined and brave stand where people more than twice as old as her on the IOC failed to do so out of cowardice.

Aly, you showed the world that am Yisrael, the people of Israel–despite all those who would wish us dead–not only live, but thrive. You showed the world that you would speak when it would have been far easier for you to revel in your own personal triumph and remain silent. You showed the world the right thing to do. Your value and values are worth far more than either rubies or gold.

I couldn’t kvell more if you were my own kid. Thank you so much, Aly, for being an amazing example for our children and for the world.


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