No Israeli returned home with a medal in this year’s Summer Olympics, which ended Sunday night in London, but Israel can bask in some reflected glory — reflected in the gold medal in sailing won by New Zealand’s Jo Aleh.
Aleh, 26, is the daughter of dual citizen Israelis-New Zealanders.
The only known Jewish member of New Zealand’s Olympic squad at the London Olympics, Aleh, right, teamed with Olivia Powrie to win the 470 regatta competition, four years after she finished in seventh place at the Beijing Games.
A former national champion and 2007 world champion, she studied engineering at Auckland University; she became interested in sailing after watching New Zealand’s Black Magic sailing boat beat the United States in the 1995 America’s Cup competition.
“Engineering is a backup,” says Aleh, a member of Auckland’s Progressive (Liberal) Beth Shalom congregation, who hopes for a career in her sport.
After the Games, she will reportedly join her family in Israel for the bat mitzvah of a half-sister.
Aleh won’t be the only Olympian going to Israel with Olympic success this month — gold medal U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman is reportedly heading there with her family after Israel’s diaspora affairs minister, Yuli Edelstein, extended an invitation. It will be Raisman’s first visit to the Jewish state.