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Aly Raisman: Olympic Hero, Jewish Daughter

A gymnast’s parents momentarily steal the show

Adam Chandler
July 30, 2012

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, who took one of the two American spots in the women’s all-around individual finals on Sunday night, is a paragon of Jewish excellence. Raisman is from Needham, Massachusetts. She’s a past recipient of the Pearl D. Mazor Outstanding Female Jewish High School Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, an honor that cannot be acronymed and is given out by the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (which does exist and is in Commack, New York). Her winning floor routine was performed to the song Hava Nagila, a tune she’s proud to use “because there aren’t too many Jewish elites out there.”

Known more for her steadying influence, Raisman is the Olympic team captain, despite being in the shadow of more electric and well-regarded American gymnasts like Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber, the latter of whom Raisman edged out with her performance on Sunday night.

Just when you thought a better script could not be written, enter her parents Lynn (a former gymnast) and Rick Raisman, who were unmercifully filmed by NBC observing their daughter’s routine on the uneven bars–her least favorite event. The clip captures the seam where love, expectation, and Massachusetts accents collide:

Best of luck to Aly on Thursday!

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.