Friday, August 3, 2012

Rabbi Jay on Aly Raisman, Needham, and Jewish Identity

Yesterday, Emily, Liana, and Jonah were excited to join over 300 Needham neighbors and friends at Town Hall to cheer Aly Raisman.   Everyone with whom I have been speaking in recent days is thrilled for Aly and her family. I was contacted recently by reporters from the “Needham Patch” and from Israel’s “Haaretz” newspaper and asked ‘how the Needham Jewish community is responding to Aly’s success.’ I shared that – to the extent that I can speak about our entire Needham Jewish community – just as is true for all residents of Needham, there seems to be a sense that something wonderful is happening to someone in our extended family. I also mentioned that a number of people have commented that they found it refreshing that Aly chose “Hava Nagila” for her floor routine…..that Aly so proudly shared her Jewish identity with the world.

In the “Boston Globe” this week, after the team’s winning the gold, Aly was quoted as saying that “I would hope that we will be able to inspire a new generation.” The idea that our actions matter and that, through how we live, we have the opportunity – the responsibility – to positively impact the way that others live is one of Judaism’s core values. Whether we are striving to stand atop the medals platform or simply live day-to-day, our tradition reminds us that what we do… we live…..makes a difference to those around us. Others are watching us…..and listening to us: our friends and neighbors…..our co-workers and life partners……our children. What are we modeling in how we speak and in what we do? What are we showing of ourselves? What impact is it making? These are very Jewish questions. And they apply whether we are on the world stage, in our work place, in our own community, or simply on the home front.

Aly, not surprisingly, was exceptionally gracious following (as she was graceful during) yesterday’s individuals competition. She celebrated her teammates. And she expressed appreciation for all that she had accomplished and for those who have supported her. We are so happy to see Aly shine as a role model of dedication, hard work, and team work. And I know that we all look forward to – soon – welcoming her and her family home to Needham.

Shabbat Shalom!



  1. I ran across the article on gymnast Aly Raisman regarding speaking up for the Israeli athletes that were murdered. Very few people in this world would have the courage to do this. Trust me I know all too well how difficult this would be. I spent over ten years in law enforcement and had many attempts on my life for standing up and doing the right thing. It’s not easy and I praise those that do. I wish this athlete much success in life.
    Lisa C. Nicolette

  2. Thank you Lisa. And thank you for your service to others!