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Olympic 'Jewish Star' Accepts Invitation to Visit Israel

Gold-winning American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman has accepted an invitation from Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein to visit Israel.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 8/12/2012, 1:37 PM

Aly Raisman
Aly Raisman
Reuters

Gold-winning American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman has accepted an invitation from Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein to make her first visit to Israel.

Raisman, 18, who secured the Olympic gold while performing a floor routine to the melody of “Hava Nagilah,” has become known as the “Jewish Star” not only for her extraordinary athletic abilities, but also for paying tribute to the slain Israeli athletes during her shining moments.

The music “means a lot to me,” she said. “If there had been a minute of silence, I would have participated."

Minister Edelstein extended a personal invitation to the entire Raisman family upon hearing of the young gymnast’s love for her Jewish heritage.

On Friday, US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, facilitated a conversation between Edelstein and Raisman, during which the gymnast happily accepted the invitation.

She is currently deciding with her family when would be the best time to visit.

Shapiro sent a congratulatory message on Twitter in Hebrew, saying “I am so proud of the American gymnast Aly Raisman...She won the floor exercise and immediately dedicated her medal to the Israelis murdered in Munich. What an impressive decision.”

Raisman also took the bronze for her routine on the balance beam and helped Team USA take the women’s team gold, the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. gymnastics squad since the 1996 Games in Atlanta.