Artem Dolgopyat
Artem Dolgopyat צילום: עמית שיסל - הוועד האולימפי בישראל

On Sunday, Olympic gymnast Artem Dolgopyat netted Israel the country’s second-ever gold medal, winning the floor exercise in the artistic gymnastics event.

The win earned him the congratulations of both Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who lauded the 24-year-old athlete’s win on behalf of Israel.

In a call to Dolgopyat, Bennett thanked him for “making history” for Israeli sports, prompting the gymnast to respond: "I'm very satisfied with the win. I've fulfilled my dream and represented the State of Israel with honor. I'd like to thank all those who accompanied me in that moment. It warms my heart."

But while Dolgopyat’s win earned him nation-wide praise and made him the object of Israeli pride, his mother noted that according to Jewish law, her son is not Jewish, and used his new fame to criticize Israel’s marriage registrar, which bars Jews from registering marriages to non-Jews, if the wedding is conducted inside Israel.

“I’m not Jewish,” said Angela Dolgopyat, who immigrated to Israel in 2009 along with her Jewish husband and their son, who was 12 at the time. “But on his father’s side, everyone is Jewish.”

In an interview with Radio 103FM Sunday, Angela lamented that her son is unable to marry his girlfriend, noting that such marriages can only be performed outside of Israel – a near impossibility given his tight training schedule and international COVID travel restrictions.

“The state won’t let him get married. He has a girlfriend and they’ve been living together for three years, but he can’t get married. He needs to leave [the country], but they won’t let him because of the sport, and also Belarus is closed because of the [COVID] mess.

Nevertheless, Dolgopyat’s mother said the move to Israel was the right thing to do, explaining that the family moved to Israel in order to help their son pursue his career as a gymnast.

“We needed to choose either to take him to learn in Kiev, or to come to Israel, so we chose Israel, and we chose correctly.

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