Olympic Gold Medalist, Aly Raisman, Accepts Invitation to Israel
The US triple medal winner accepts Minister Yuli Edelstein's personal invite to visit Israel.
18-year old United States gymnast, Aly Raisman, became an Olympic sensation after not only leading her team to a gold medal, but also being the first American female gymnast to nab the gold in a floor routine.
Raisman famously performed the winning routine to the tune of 'Hava Nagila'. When asked why she chose the traditional Jewish song, she explained that she was proud of her Judaism and wanted to represent her heritage at the 2012 London Olympics. Although the song was not intentionally chosen to honor the 11 Israeli athletes slain at the Munich Olympics, she did dedicate all three of her medals to them, and would have participated in a moment of silence if the IOC had accepted the countless requests for such a moment.
Moved by Raisman's love for her Jewish heritage, Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, extended a personal invitation to the gymnast inviting her entire family to visit Israel.
“I am sure you know that beyond your wonderful personal achievement, you also brought great pride to millions of Jews in Israel and around the world,” Edelstein wrote in the personal letter.
“For me personally, as the minister in charge of relations with Diaspora Jewry, hearing why you chose the song made me realize that the concept of Kol Israel Arevim Zeh Lazeh [All Jews are responsible for one another] still holds true and that the Jewish people remain united no matter how far apart we may live. I was impressed that someone so young made such a monumental, ethical decision.”
“Making your first visit to Israel is not only important because it is the homeland of the Jewish people but also because you can contribute from your experience to the young generation of Israeli athletes,” Edelstein continued.
Edelstein followed up by getting in touch with the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and Aly Raisman's synagogue in Newton, Mass. to ensure she received his request.
US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, facilitated a conversation between Edelstein and Raisman on Friday. The gymnast happily accepted the invitation and is currently deciding with her family the best time to visit.
In celebration of Raisman's win, Shapiro sent her a congratulatory message on Twitter in Hebrew, saying “I am so proud of the American gymnast Aly Raisman...She won the floor exercise and immediately dedicated her medal to the Israelis murdered in Munich. What an impressive decision.”