Torah! Torah! Torah!

Move over Shalom Harlow, Torah Bright has taken the Olympic gold and her place as first prize winner in the category for gorgeous non-Jewish women with cool Jewish names.

Yesterday, the Australian Bright won the women’s halfpipe snowboarding event in Vancouver. It was indeed, a great moment for her, just days after she bore the flag for her country in the Games’ opening ceremony and only weeks after suffering a concussion during training.

Well, it appears that blogger Rabbi Jason Miller of scooped me, beating me to the punch with lots of clever quips like: “In synagogues, Jewish people put bright gold on the Torah (gold breastplate and crown). As we saw tonight in Vancouver: In the Olympics they put GOLD on Torah Bright (a gold medal),” and “I’m sure that after the Olympics, back home in  Australia they will have a parade for their Gold Medal snowboarder. No doubt, the Jewish community in Australia will refer to the day as Simchat Torah!” Heck, I couldn’t even hope to be able to produce a photoshopped image like the one he threw together so quickly:

But what I can do is come up with a different angle on Torah’s unique name, which her mother chose after her older daughter’s Jewish music teacher told her the meaning of the word. Torah, was indeed a fitting choice, given that Bright has become known for her adherence to the teachings of religion and her genuinely wholesome image. The Hebrew word “Torah,” derived from the verb “to teach,” essentially means “instruction.” For Jews, it is the “Tree of Life,” its laws and commandments the path to a spiritually fulfilling existence. It would seem that, notwithstanding the fact that Bright is a devout Mormon, her name is rather apropos. Besides, there’s really no mistaking her for a Jew, given that Torah is simply not a name that members of the tribe give their children. You’ll find plenty of names from the Torah, just not the name of the sacred text itself, on any Jewish family tree.

I like to think of Torah Bright’s close, positive relationship with her older brother Ben as a nice contrast to the dysfunctional sibling rivalries we so often encounter in the Five Books of Moses. Ben is Torah’s coach, having given up his competitive career to help his sister achieve her dreams. Theirs is a shining (sorry, couldn’t help my pun-loving self) example of how well siblings can work together to reach a common goal, sharing a blessing rather than fighting each other for it.

Here are two videos highlighting how Torah’s older brother supports, encourages and teaches her:

© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Torah! Torah! Torah!”

  1. Rabbi Jason Miller Says:

    Thanks for the hat tip!

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