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Gold medal gymnast wins Israelis' hearts

    Gold-medal winning US gymnast Aly Raisman — whose floor routine was set to Hava Nagilah - has proved an inspiration for many ordinary Israelis.

    Dan Yagudin, a member of University of Haifa Hillel, wrote and circulated a tribute letter to the gymnast.

    The letter said: “I want to tell you how you became the hero of a gym full of Israeli soldiers, the same ones who serve two to three years of their lives because we have to; because there’s no one else who would do it, because our neighbourhood sucks.”

    Mr Yagudin went on to praise Ms Raisman for picking Hava Nagilah to accompany her dance routine: “It’s that song that drew almost everyone to the TV as soon as the report about you came on the news.

    “There was nothing apologetic about what you did. For so long we’ve had to apologise for who we are: for how we dress, for our beliefs, for the way we look. It seems as if the International Olympic Committee wanted to keep that tradition… They didn’t count on an 18-year-old girl in a leotard.”

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