Brazilian judo champ Camila Minakawa, who won a bronze medal in the under-21 Judo World Championships, made aliyah from Brazil to Israel Wednesday morning.
Minakawa will join the Israeli women’s Judo team, whose coach Shany Hershko and the Jewish Agency helped her make aliyah.
Minakawa, 21, has a Jewish mother who works as a Judo coach and a Japanese-Brazilian father who is an Olympic Judo referee. During her childhood, Minkawa was active in the Zionist Youth movement HaBonim Dror and has been practicing Judo since a young age. She has visited Israel a number of times and in 2009 participated in the 18th Macabee Games, where she won a gold medal in the women’s Judo event.
Hershko, the coach of the Israeli women’s Judoka team stayed in touch with Camila and mentioned aliyah when they met several months ago at an international training camp.
“Camila was very impressed by the high level of the training that the Israeli team undertakes and from the professional environment here,” according to Hershko. “Together with her mother, she decided that her place is here in Israel and she expressed a desire to represent the State of Israel in competition.
“I am certain that a sportswoman who won a bronze medal in the Under 21 World Championship will add an additional dimension and power to our talented Israel Judo team when she joins us.”
The Jewish community in Brazil numbers around 80,000, most of whom live in the capital São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilian Jews maintain a strong connection with Israel, with an average of 200 making aliyah every year, and many hundreds more participating on educational programs such as Birthright or the Jewish Agency’s MASA program.
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said, “Camila joins a family of outstanding Jewish sportsmen and women who choose to make aliyah each year, and who participate in a wide range of sports bringing great honor to Israel in international competitions.”