If you don’t know by now that Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman used to play “Hava Negilah” during her floor routine, you’re a little behind. A slightly deeper dive would turn up Sasha Cohen, 2006 Olympic silver medalist in figure skating, who choreographed her routine to Barbara Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” That American Jewish women would use such music in competition isn’t really surprising, but Tuesday, another competitor threw her hat in the ring, this one a bit more out of the ordinary.
Sae Miyakawa, a 16-year-old Japanese gymnast, took the floor Tuesday night to the chorus of “Kol ha-Olam Kulo,” an 18th century aphorism and song of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov, set to klezmer music. Check it out:
UPDATE: The video of the routine has been taken down, but you can watch Miyakawa perform it in Japan below:
Why did Miyakawa choose this music? Perhaps it was a coincidence; the melody could have originated outside Judaism and then been appropriated by Rabbi Nahman for his lyrics. Or perhaps Miyakawa felt that the words of the rabbi’s song were particularly suited to the occasion of Olympic gymnastics: “The whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the main thing is to remember not to be afraid.”