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Yesha Resident Kicks Her Way to Beijing Olympics

Israel will be represented at the Olympic Games in Beijing by a religious 21-year-old woman from Kochav Yaakov, near Jerusalem and Ramallah.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 8/4/2008, 9:42 AM / Last Update: 8/4/2008, 12:32 PM

Israel News Photo: (ISR-TKD)

The Jewish State will be represented at the Olympic Games in Beijing this month by Bat-El Gatterer, a young religious resident of Kochav Yaakov, located in the Binyamin region of Samaria.

Gatterer, an IDF soldier who ends her service on the day she travels to Beijing, will represent Israel in the women's taekwondo martial arts competition. A member of the largest delegation ever sent by Israel to the Games, the 21-year-old pioneer will compete in the 57 kilogram, (125 pound) class.

She won the bronze medal at the European qualifying trials in Istanbul, Turkey last January.

The young woman says she was slightly surprised at being able to qualify for the Summer Games. "It is a great achievement and it is the dream of every sportsman, but people believed in me," Gatterer told Reuters news agency at her training camp at Wingate Sports Institute near Netanya.

Because she is an observant Jew, Gatterer does not travel by car on the Sabbath (Friday night and Saturday) – a complication which in the past has meant that she sometimes has had to walk to her competition venues. At the Olympic Games, the young Israeli will compete on Thursday.

She won't have to starve, however, thanks to the kosher food that will be provided by the organizers. There will also be plenty of kosher food available for spectators, according to Rabbi Shimon Freundlich, who has been living in China for seven years.

A Glatt Kosher restaurant – Dini's – will be open during the Games 24 hours a day. The Chabad office in Beijing,  added Freundlich, will also be on call to assist all the Israeli athletes and any other Jewish traveler who goes to Beijing for the Olympics – or after.

Gatterer is the oldest of six children born to her parents, both themselves born in France. They moved to Kochav Yaakov in the 1980's, a religious community of more than 1,000 families. The vibrant community is located 12 minutes north of Jerusalem, near Ramallah.

Although the political status of her home has no connection with her participation in the Games, Reuters pointed out to its readers that she is from a "West Bank hilltop settlement" that is part of "captured" land that has "been deemed illegal by the World Court."

Kochav Yaakov, founded in 1984, and its adjacent sister community of Tel Tzion are populated by a mixture of religious Zionist, hareidi religious Zionist and other observant Jewish Israelis, both Sephardic and Ashkenazic, including 15 to 20 percent English-speaking immigrants.

High Ranking for Israelis in Europe
In 2007, female Israeli competitors ranked among best competitors in Europe by European Taekwondo Union (ETU):
• Batel Geterer (55 kg-Ahi Yehuda Club) ranked second with 13 points
• Mical Taraboulos (63 kg-Lions Club) ranked second with 13 points
• Ana Mirkin (51 kg-Amos Club) ranked third with 7 points
• Maya Arussi (47 kg- Lions Club) ranked sixth with 5 points.

Beginning 2008, our athletes are now leading the ETU ranking system with Gold Medalists:
• Bat-El Geterer in Holland and Germany
• Ana Mirkin in Sweden 
• Amir Ben David (54kg-Ariot) in Holland
Bronze Medalists: 
• Adam Sagir (62kg-Ahi Yehuda)
• Gabriel Dolmoun (78 kg-Kfar Saba)
• Maya Arussi 
• Daniella Kandel (67 kg-Ahi Yehuda) in Sweden

In the junior category Alon Elboher (68 kg-Razi Taekwondo) and Liran Melachi (55kg-Sharabi M.A.) won gold medals in Sweden and Germany.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz contributed to this report.