August 1, 2012
By Stephanie Butnick
On Saturday morning, Illinois-native Jillian Schwartz and Los Angelino Donald Sanford will put on their uniforms and take the Olympic stage in London where they will compete in the qualifying rounds for pole vault and 400-meter dash, respectively. But the two former U.S. citizens won’t be wearing red, white, and blue. They’ll be competing for Israel, as the only American-born members of the Jewish state’s Olympic team.
Of the 37 Olympians representing Israel at this year’s games, only 20 were born in Israel. Thirteen were born in the former Soviet Union; tennis player Andy Ram moved to Jerusalem at age 5 from Uruguay, where he was born to an Israeli father and Uruguayan mother; Ethiopian marathoner Zohar Zemiro emigrated to Israel at age 10 in a 1987 airlift. But Schwartz and Sanford, who both competed at the highest levels in the United States, only became Israeli citizens since the last Olympic cycle. Read more