(photo credit: Courtesy)
American-born Nili Block made Aliyah with her family when she was just two years old. At age 10, she was introduced to kickboxing by her mother—then an officer in Israel’s Border Police—who wanted her to learn self-defense. Little did the Block family know that Nili would ultimately become a world champion.
In October 2015, Block was crowned champion in the 60-kilogram senior division (ages 19 and up) at the Kickboxing World Championships in Belgrade. The same year, she was named Female Athlete of the Year by the Federation of Non-Olympic Competitive Sports in Israel. She has since been named the Muay Thai (Thai boxing) world champion in 2016 and 2017, and gives back to the community by hosting Krav Maga self-defense courses for Israeli high school-age girls so that they can learn to defend themselves.
At age 17, Block appeared to face the difficult choice between serving in an IDF combat unit or continuing her athletic career. However, thanks to a special IDF program, she was able to compete in international kickboxing competitions and also join the army with a special designation as “an outstanding athlete.”
Following her world championship in 2015, Block told the JNS news service, “It is such a good feeling [being a champion]. I see this as an uprising, and it’s so special to become a symbol in the world as a Jew and as an Israeli. They didn’t expect me to win, coming from such a small country. Who would have expected it?”Over the 8 days of Hanukka, The Jerusalem Post and Nefesh B’Nefesh bring you 8 extraordinary Olim from North America and the UK that have shined their respective light on Israel and the Jewish people. Nefesh B’Nefesh, the main facilitator of Aliya from these areas, has brought over 50,000 Olim to Israel since the organizations’ founding 10 years ago. Its annual Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize honors these Olim each year. To nominate exceptional Anglo Olim making a difference in Israel, please visit: http://www.nbn.org.il/bonei-zion/