Israel’s athletes will need to win gold if they want to hear “Hatikva” at this summer’s Olympics — it’s happened just once before — but one tune that’s now sure to get played is “Hava Nagila.”
One of America’s freshly minted Olympians — gymnast Aly Raisman — uses the number during her floor routine (starting at about 1:50 here), and over the weekend secured her a spot on the squad by winning the Olympic trials (defeating current world champion Jordan Wieber in the process).
An 18-year-old from the Boston suburb of Needham, Massachusetts, Raisman is Jewish. Among her many accomplishments — which include three medals at least year’s world championships — is being named 2011’s Pearl D. Mazor Outstanding Female Jewish High School Scholar-Athlete of the Year, an honor given out by America’s National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Having knocked off the current world champion en route to the Olympics, Raisman is now a front-runner to win multiple medals at the London Games, which begin July 27. Her “Hava Nagila” routine is likely to feature prominently — in addition to taking the national title in the event this year, she also claimed bronze on the floor at last year’s world championships.
However she fares, this will not be the Hebrew folk song’s first encounter with elite gymnastics. In fact, here’s a handy rundown of past performers who’ve taken a tumble to the tune.