Aly Raisman invited to Israel

Aug. 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- An Israeli official invited U.S. gymnastics gold medalist Aly Raisman, who is Jewish, to visit Israel with her family.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein sent an invitation Thursday to the 18-year-old athlete, who won the gold for her floor routine to the tune of traditional Jewish song "Hava Nagila," becoming the first U.S. woman to take the top spot in the event, as well as a gold medal for the performance of the U.S. women's gymnastics team and the bronze in the balance beam competition, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday.

Raisman said she chose "Hava Nagila" because she is proud of her Jewish heritage, and she dedicated her medals to the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

"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. "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."

The minister invited Raisman to make her first visit to Israel and bring her whole family.

"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 wrote.

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