U.S. Olympic Gymnast Hails From Reform Congregation



The 2012 London Olympics begin this evening, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting for this Opening Ceremony since… well, since the last Olympics Opening Ceremony two years ago. Though I have absolutely zero athletic abilities of my own, I just can’t get enough of the Olympics.

Today I found another reason to be excited when I learned that 18-year-old Aly Raisman, a member of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team, is also a member of one of our URJ congregations! Raisman and her family belong to Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre, MA, just outside of Boston. Read on for more about her from the Times of Israel and a video of her recent floor routine done to the tune of Hava Nagila:

Israel’s athletes will need to win gold if they want to hear “Hatikva” at this summer’s Olympics — it’s happened just once before— but one tune that’s now sure to get played is “Hava Nagila.”

One of America’s freshly minted Olympians — gymnast Aly Raisman — uses the number during her floor routine (starting at about 1:50 here), and over the weekend secured her a spot on the squad by winning the Olympic trials (defeating current world champion Jordan Wieber in the process).

An 18-year-old from the Boston suburb of Needham, Massachusetts, Raisman is Jewish. Among her many accomplishments — which include three medals at least year’s world championships — is being named 2011′s Pearl D. Mazor Outstanding Female Jewish High School Scholar-Athlete of the Year, an honor given out by America’s National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Having knocked off the current world champion en route to the Olympics, Raisman is now a front-runner to win multiple medals at the London Games, which begin July 27.  Her “Hava Nagila” routine is likely to feature prominently — in addition to taking the national title in the event this year, she also claimed bronze on the floor at last year’s world championships.

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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate is a native of Cuyahoga Falls, OH, and currently resides in Red Bank, N.J.

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