Noad “Neo” Lahat (b. 1984) was born in Alfei Menashe, Israel, the son of two former IDF generals. He began practicing Judo when he was 5 years old. After serving for three and a half years in the Israeli Army, Lahat started learning Brazilian jiu-jitsu and by 2010 was the world champion in the sport. Having earned two black belts (in judo and jiu-jitsu), he was introduced to mixed martial arts by a friend. Lahat moved to San Jose and began training with the American Kickboxing Academy. He was undefeated in all of his mixed martial arts bouts when he was finally invited to the UFC. Although he lost his first match, Lahat came back for a second go on July 26 and earned his first UFC victory. He is now on his way back to Israel, choosing to go back to the IDF and help the Israeli Army in the current Gaza conflict. This was a purely voluntary decision that has won him the admiration of many. In his post-victory interview Lahat said, “My mom and my dad have 15 seconds to run to get shelter when missiles are falling on them, and I’m here in sunny California. I love California, but I need to go and defend my home… As a combat soldier, there’s nothing I want more in the world than peace… I don’t want to see more killing and more blood. The only blood [should be] in the Octagon.”
Words of the Week
It’s just another round of this ridiculous game. Hamas are shooting at us. We try to respond, but we can’t because most of the world… don’t let us finish the job and take Hamas down. So we stop, and then they’re shooting again. – Noad Lahat
Nili Block and Sarah Avraham – Photo by Kobi Kalmanowitz
Nili Block was born in Baltimore, Maryland and made aliyah to Israel with her family when she was just 2 years old. At age 10, she joined her mother in Thai boxing classes. By 18, she won the KickBox World Cup in Hungary, a gold medal at the world kickboxing championship in Bangkok, and a European championship title, too. Block trains alongside Sarah Avraham, who also won the world championship in her division in Bangkok. Like Block, Avraham made aliyah with her family to Israel, hailing from India. Avraham was born in Mumbai to a Christian mother and a Hindi father who were both drawn to Judaism for many years and eventually converted. (They began the process with Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbetzin Rivka Holtzberg – who were tragically gunned down at their Chabad House in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.) Block and Avraham are the same age, and are both coached by Eddie Yusupov. The former is now a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, while the latter is doing her part in Israel’s National Service. They are both Torah-observant Jews, keeping kosher and Shabbat even on their boxing tours. The two world champions hope to compete in the 2016 Olympics Games, if kickboxing will finally be included as an Olympic sport.
Words of the Week
Just as it is incumbent upon every Jew to put on tefillin every day, so is there an unequivocal duty which rests upon every individual, from the greatest scholar to the most simple of folk, to set aside a half-hour each day in which to think about the education of his children. – Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch