Tag Archives: 2016 Rio Olympics

Jew of the Week: Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman at the 2016 Rio Olympics (Credit: Fernando Frazao/Agencia Brasil)

Aly Raisman at the 2016 Rio Olympics (Credit: Fernando Frazao/Agencia Brasil)

Alexandra Rose Raisman (b. 1994) was born in Massachusetts. As the eldest daughter of a gymnast, she was introduced to gymnastics at just two years old, and was inspired by watching that year’s Olympics US women’s team. At 14, she started competing in both national and international events. After two successful years, she signed as a professional athlete and received sponsorship from Ralph Lauren. The following year, she tried out for the American Olympic team and placed third overall. Raisman made it to the 2012 London Olympics as part of the team nicknamed the “Fierce Five”. She dedicated her floor routine (set to the tune of Hava Nagila) to the Israeli terror victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics (see it here). It won her the gold medal, making her the first American woman to win a gold medal in floor exercise. She went on to win two gold medals and one bronze medal – the most decorated American gymnast at the London games. She returned to the 2016 Rio games as captain of the team nicknamed the “Final Five” (since the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will switch to a four-team format, and the US team will have a different coach). Raisman has won three more medals in Rio – a gold and two silvers – making her the second most decorated Olympic gymnast in American history. Away from the Olympics, she has won over a dozen other medals at the World Championships, the Pacific Rim Championships, and the American Cup. Raisman has also appeared on the television shows Dancing With the Stars and Gold Medal Families, and was featured in the documentary Aly Raisman: Quest for Gold. When she isn’t training, Raisman often volunteers with the Special Olympics and with UNICEF, among other organizations. In 2013, she lit the flames at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Words of the Week

Cherish criticism, for it will place you on the true heights.
– Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber of Lubavitch

Jew of the Week: Nate Ebner

The Only Super Bowl Champion at the Olympics

Ebner at the Rio Olympics (Credit: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

Ebner at the Rio Olympics (Credit: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

Nate Ebner (b. 1988) was born and raised in Ohio, where his father was the principal of Springfield’s Temple Sholom Hebrew Sunday school. Ebner’s father was a fan of rugby, and introduced his son to the sport at an early age. At 17, Ebner became the youngest player ever to make the US national team. He was also the MVP of the under-19 and under-20 teams. During his third year of studies at Ohio State University, Ebner decided to try out for the football team, and soon became one of their best players. He was named “most inspirational player”, won several awards, and was given a football scholarship for his final, senior year. In 2012, Ebner was drafted by the NFL’s New England Patriots and signed a four-year contract, which he recently extended for another two years. In 2014, he won his first Super Bowl with the team. That year, Patriot’s coach Bill Belichik described him as being in the “top-five percent all time of players that I’ve coached.” Meanwhile, rugby has returned to the Olympics after some 90 years, and Ebner got permission from the Patriots to try out for the team. Having not played rugby professionally for a long time, his odds for making it were put at just 10 to 20 percent. Surprising everyone, Ebner made the team and is now in Rio. That makes him the only NFL player (and Super Bowl champion) to participate in the Olympics. Ebner has been described as a “heat-seeking missile” on the field, and having a “passion for being great”. His main inspiration is his father, who was tragically murdered in a robbery eight years ago. Ebner said of his father: “He taught me the importance of being Jewish… and conduct myself always in a proper manner… My dad was my only role model… There wasn’t anyone else I wanted to be like more than him.”

Words of the Week

The Messiah’s coming is not simply the redemption of the Jews… but a general change in the entire world… we will all recognize that God encompasses past, present, and future as one.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe