Cue “Hava Nagila,” Aly Raisman is coming to Israel.
The Jewish-American gymnast, who performed her gold-medal winning floor exercise routine to the tune of that traditional folk song at the 2012 London Olympics, will compete in the 19th Maccabiah Games this July, organizers announced Monday at a news conference at the Maccabiah Village in Ramat Gan.
Maccabiah chairman Amir Pered said that Raisman will be honored during the opening ceremony, which will take place on July 18 at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.
“We are very happy that an athlete like Aly Raisman, who is at the top of her game, will be coming to take part,” Pered said. He noted that she will be joined by her famously anxious parents.
Raisman’s triumph in the floor exercise at the London Olympics helped the U.S. women’s gymnastics team clinch their first Olympic gold medal since 1996. She also claimed an individual bronze in balance beam.
But it was her song choice and comments about the massacre of Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Olympics in Munich that endeared her to Jews around the world.
The 2012 games marked the 40th anniversary of the massacre, in which 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were murdered by Palestinian terrorists from the group Black September. The International Olympic Committee decided not to hold a moment of silence for the victims during the Games’ opening ceremony, over protests by Israel and other countries. Raisman weighed in on the controversy after her floor exercise victory.
“If there had been a moment’s silence, I would have supported it and respected it,” the 18-year-old native of Needham, Massachusetts was quoted as saying.
Coming in with the best time among female participants was Mihiret Anotonius, also of Ethiopia, and the top Israeli finisher was Liran Raz.
The Transportation Ministry has approved a new project that would see a new and extensive grid of cycling trails paved nationwide.
The Israel National Roads Company (NRC) has been tasked with creating the grid, which will stretch across 400 kilometers of both urban and interurban roads.
The project’s main goal is to minimize the deadly accidents cyclists are involved, especially when using interurban highways.
As a bonus, once safety is dramatically improved, the ministry hopes it would encourage more people to use this eco-friendly mode of transportation.
Israel’s competitive cycling community numbers in the thousands, and the recreational cycling community numbers in the tens of thousands.
The past few years have seen dozens of deadly accidents involving competitive road cyclists, both professional and amateur; and the more popular the sport became, the more pressing its infrastructure problem has become, as well.
The ministry and the NRC partnered with the Israel Cycling Federation and the Israel Police to plan the new grid, which stand to cost tens of millions of shekels.
The grid will span some 180km in northern Israel, 100km across its center and coastline and 120km in the south. NRC will also be responsible from their routine maintenance.
“The use of bicycles has grown exponentially over the past few years. They are now an important part of Israel’s transportation lineup and therefore the ministry has decided to increase its investment in infrastructure,” Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz told Yedioth Ahronoth.
Rossi said that “football is an international language which should be used to bring people closer, to strength the ties on the way to peace.” Peres thanked Rosell and said that “football offers equal opportunity to young people, without prejudice.”