April 20, 2015, JNS.org
Podpolnyy, then 17 years old, had just been disqualified from the Israeli kayaking championship. He couldn’t survive the heats. He didn’t make the start line. He was devastated—and he had no one with whom to share his hopes, his dreams, and his disappointment. His divorced parents still live in Russia, and he has been estranged from his father since making aliyah at age 15.
“I said to him, ‘You’re a young man. I just met you. I saw how you paddled. If you want support and a good family—if you want to get ahead—I recommend you come to the Jordan Valley,’” Lev recalled in an interview with JNS.org at the kayak club’s lounge on April 18, shortly after this year’s Israeli kayaking championship.