Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Aly Raisman, Jewish Ambassador?

It always pleases me when I get the opportunity to recognize my blog's entire name. For the last month or so, the focus has mostly been on the gymnastics part, but today I wrote a post for Jewcy that addresses the whole thing about the Jewish community's cynical attempts to use Ms. Raisman as the newest spokeswoman for American Jewry and charge her with the task of engaging young, disinterested Jews.

I know it's tempting to sieze Raisman, a fabulous gymnast who has carried herself well throughout her career, and try to make into some sort of Jewish role model who espouses particularly Jewish values. But aside from doing a floor routine to "Hava Nagila" (something at least four other elites have done) and voicing support the moment of silence after her victory on floor exercise, the values she seems to express seem to be universal ones of sportswomanship and general "golden rule" stuff--not necessarily Jewish ones.

I'm not saying that Raisman shouldn't inspire young Jews and make them feel pride in her accomplishments. But don't put the onus of engaging young Jews on a teenager whose religious and personal beliefs haven't been clearly stated and are probably still developing.

But if you must place this responsibility on Raisman, at least do the following:

As an ardent gymnastics fan and blogger, I’d support turning Raisman into some kind of Jewish figurehead if, in turn, the Jewish world had to start caring about my beloved sport year round, instead of once every four years. It’s a two way street, folks. This means that her next competition (should she decide to compete after this year) would have to be covered by all the Jewish media outlets even if she changes her floor music—which she undoubtedly will since she’s been using “Hava” for two competitive seasons now. If we want her time and unwavering support, it’s time we gave her ours. (I’d like to nominate myself as official Jewish media correspondent to all gymnastics meets so we don’t miss an angle and opportunity for “engagement.”)

Seriously Jews--lets start an outreach project based on gymnastics and I'll quit all of my gigs and devote myself to this full time.

You can read the rest of the post here

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