Dmitriy Salita, the orthodox Jewish boxer who earlier this week lost his bid for a world championship, is on his way with his wife Alona to Israel for the first time. His six-day visit, based primarily in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, will feature his lighting the Chanukah menorah Monday night at a soccer game between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Ashdod.
Salita this week lost out to Muslim boxer and world champion Amir Khan.
He will be hosted by the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, which helps Jews immigrate to Israel (aliyah), but the group’s representatives said the visit is to get acquainted with the country and is not geared for his moving here.
The 26-year-old boxer was born in Ukraine and now lives in Brooklyn, where he is a part of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
He and his wife are scheduled to meet with former Prisoner of Zion Natan Sharansky, who is chairman of the Jewish Agency, and probably will also meet Immigration Minister Sofie Lanver. His list of spots to visit includes the Western Wall and adjacent tunnel, Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum and sports facilities.
In a recent interview before his widely-publicized match with the Muslim champion, Salita told the Chabad website, “In terms of this fight, this is giving us a chance for people to come together. I have no problem, there is no beef…. I am really against any extremist. Of course, everyone has points of view but the Koran does not say innocent people should be killed.
“According to Judaism and our Bible, the Torah, everyone was created in the image of G-d and everyone has the right to live, to be happy and make the world a better place. In Judaism, we do that through peace and through love and by trying to spread goodness.”
He also said he tries to stay away from politics.
Salita recently told the London Independent, “My G-d loves nothing more than hard work. I grew to love the traditions of my ancestors through Judaism.”
He discovered Judaism after he moved to the United States and met a rabbi while he was in a hospital where his mother was being treated for cancer, from which she later died.