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(photo credit: Joseph D. Robbins)
Gal Fridman realized his own dream of winning an Olympic gold medal two years ago, so now he spends some of his time helping underprivileged children fulfill their dreams.
Fridman finished first in the men's mistral windsailing competition at the 2004 Athens Games and became the first Israeli to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
Now, two years after his performance was cheered by Israelis and Jews worldwide, Fridman works with the Joint Distribution Committee, volunteering his time to teach the children how to windsurf. He shows them that no matter what wind blows their way, they can always have fun.
Although Friedman usually works with groups of children from the Caesarea area, where he resides, eight children from the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa had their dreams realized with Friedman's help on Monday.
"It gives the kids the kind of self-confidence they wouldn't have normally," Fridman told The Jerusalem Post, discussing the private lessons he gave the group of Israeli, Arab and new immigrant children from the former Soviet Union.
Larissa Angert, who runs the teenage section of the local JDC program "Better Together" for the City of Haifa echoed Friedman's statements. "The program gives the children somewhere to go when there's nothing else for them," she explained.
The Haifa program, one of 50 such programs in cities across the country, has community centers that service over 700 kids and provide them with the opportunity to participate in basketball and soccer leagues, and to take dance and other classes.
For Haifa native, 13-yearold Shalom Hizgilov, who has been involved with "Better Together" for two months, the program is a way to learn math and English and have fun with close friends. "It is like a family," Hizgilov said.
One of those friends, 14-year-old Ariel Razilov, also of Haifa, agreed, but noted that the basketball league is his favorite part of the program.
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