Olympic gold medalist speaks to Jewish community
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A world champion gymnast who proved to be the golden girl at the 2012 Summer Olympics, visited South Florida for a special appearance.
Aly Raisman, an 18-year-old from Needham, Massachusetts is more than a world champion gymnast, she has become a hero to many.
Raisman gained international fame for winning numerous gold medals during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. "It's still so amazing that I was this little girl with a dream, and all my dreams came true," said Raisman.
Raisman made her first visit to South Florida on Wednesday for the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), which helps out thousands of Israeli children. "We are very proud, especially because people don't realize that all over the world, when you want to think of a Jewish song, it doesn't matter how Jewish you are or not, when you hear Hava Nagila, it is totally the song they recognize," said President of WIZO Jana Falic.
Raisman stands out as a proud Jew and has been recognized across the globe. She won her gold medal on the floor routine dancing to Hava Nagila. "It was so exciting to perform it. It gave me such an adrenaline rush, and it was so exciting to be able to represent my Jewish heritage," said Raisman.
Hava Nagila is a traditional Jewish song, which means, "Let us rejoice."
Raisman's mother Lynn said, "I was talking to our rabbi back home, and he shared a letter that he had gotten from a woman whose mother was a Holocaust survivor, and she was watching the Olympics, and she had no idea that Ally was performing," said Lynn. "When she did perform her floor route to Hava Nagila she said, 'Oh, my gosh, I never thought in my lifetime that I would see a Jewish girl performing at the Olympics to Hava Nagila."
After Raisman won her gold, she proudly said that she would have wanted a moment of silence for the 11 Israeli Olympians who were murdered during the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Raisman's statement captured the hearts of many Jews around the world. "She just made us all so proud of who we are," said fan, Yvette Goldenberg.
As soon as it was announced that Raisman would speak at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in October, hundreds of people rushed to buy tickets to hear her speak. "Being Jewish and having accomplished that at the Olympics, it means more than words can describe. It means so much to me," said Raisman.
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