Just when we thought that gymnast Aly Raisman couldn’t do any more to solidify her status as the official Jewish heroine of the 2012 Olympic Games - after choosing “Hava Nagila” as the music for the floor exercise routine that got her into the all-around finals, having a video of her worried parents watching her perform go viral, and finally, winning the gold in floor and the bronze on beam, making her the most-decorated U.S. gymnast - she’s taken it to another level.
The New York Post reported:
“Raisman finished first in the women’s floor exercise, but she deserves to have another medal draped around her neck for having the chutzpah to face the world and do what needed to be done and say what needed to be said.
At the same Olympic Games where bigoted organizers stubbornly refuse to honor the slain athletes with a moment of silence, 18-year-old Raisman loudly shocked observers first by winning, then by paying her own tribute to 11 sportsmen who died long before she was born.
And if that weren’t enough, she won her event with the Hebrew folk song “Hava Nagila” playing in the background.
“Having that floor music wasn’t intentional,” an emotional but poised Raisman told reporters after her performance.
“But the fact it was on the 40th anniversary is special, and winning the gold today means a lot to me.”
Then Raisman stuck the landing.
“If there had been a moment’s silence,” the 18-year-old woman told the world, “I would have supported it and respected it.”
It was 40 years ago at the 1972 Munich Games that members of the Israeli Olympic delegation were taken hostage and eventually killed by Palestinian radicals.”
The Post’s Leonard Greene quoted Raisman’s rabbi as praising not only his congregant’s victory, but her ‘mettle’ in mentioning and remembering the slain Israeli Olympians in her moment of victory.
“She is a focused person,” said Rabbi Keith Stern, spiritual leader of Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre, Mass., where the Raisman family are members.
“She’s very proud and upfront about being Jewish. Neither she nor her family explicitly sought to send a message. But it shows how very integrated her Jewish heritage is in everything that she does.”
Stern said he remembers picking up young Aly from preschool, and never imagined she’d be some sort of megastar.
He described the US team captain as a big sister-type who is a mother hen to all her younger siblings.
“I can’t wait to have her at the temple to talk about her experience,” he said.
“I know her sister’s bat mitzvah is coming up, so maybe I’ll catch up with her then.”
But as she celebrates her Olympic triumph, Raisman’s mind is not focused on solemn thoughts. Like all of the teenage gymnasts, she is reveling in the attention of pop idols, and has been tweeting back and forth with famous actors and rappers.
There has been no word on how Raisman’s parents have reacted to her victorious moment, but hopefully, the famously stressed-out duo can relax.
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