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(JTA) — Aly Raisman, a Jewish American, and her four beautiful teenage teammates, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Kylan Ross and McKayla Maroney comprising the US gymnastic women’s team jumped, somersaulted and then flew off with the gold medal at the London Olympics today.
The Americans won their first team gold medal in women’s gymnastics since the Atlanta Games in 1996, finishing with 183.596 points to defeat Russia (178.530) and Romania (176.414).
Raisman, 18, of Needham, Mass, scored 15.300 in the floor exercise to complete the victory, performing her routine to a string-heavy version of “Hava Nagila” as she did on Sunday. Raisman also had performed to “Hava Nagila” when she gained a berth on the US team last year.
(Hava Nagila (lit. Let us rejoice) is a Hebrew folk song that has become a staple of band performers at Jewish weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. The melody was taken from a Ukrainian folk dance-song from Bukovina (a variant of Hora). The commonly used text was probably composed by Abraham Zevi (Zvi) Idelsohn in 1918 to celebrate the British victory in Palestine during World War I as well as the Balfour Declaration re-establishing a Jewish Homeland in Israel.)
Raisman is favored to win the all-around individual competition on Thursday, as well as the floor exercise on Aug. 7, when she also will be competing in the balance beam final. She and team mate Gabby Douglas are representing the US in the individual finals.
Hopefully, the International Olympic Committee will again be treated to another night listening to the Star Spangled Banner and Hava Negila.
Jerome S. Kaufman
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