About AJ

AJ Edelman is a four-time Israeli National Champion in the skeleton event and Israel’s representative at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. Edelman holds Israeli track records on almost every track he has raced on, and competed in two World Championships for Israel (2016, 2017). He is Israel’s most decorated slider with 2 international medals in competition.

AJ was born in Boston, Massachusetts (03/14/1991).  A native of Brookline, Massachusetts, AJ’s first sport was ice hockey, which he began playing at age 3, as a goaltender. Edelman continued to play hockey through high school for the Brookline Warriors hockey team, at one point turning down opportunities to play at prep schools and remaining at his Jewish day school, Maimonides. Edelman continued to play through his tenure at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), helping the Engineers win two divisional championships in the NECHA division II league.

After graduating MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Edelman was hired by Oracle as a product manager, at their headquarters in Redwood Shores, California.

AJ’s Connection to Israel, Making Aliya, and Mission to Encourage More Jewish and Israeli Sport

AJ is an avid zionist and was first inspired to make Aliyah (become an Israeli citizen) after spending a summer in Israel during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, a decision he reaffirmed after spending an academic year in Yeshiva (Lev Hatorah) in 2010.  In addition to numerous family connections and close friends who reside in Israel, AJ was also inspired to make Aliyah after his cousin served as a Chayal Boded (lone soldier) in the Israeli army.

With an eye on making Aliyah (migration to Israel), Edelman focused his efforts on accomplishing something in the realm of Israeli sports with meaningful inspirational potential, with a goal of using his journey to launch a foundation to foster more sports participation in the Israeli and Jewish communities.

Skeleton Athlete

After his hockey experiences through his tenure at MIT, AJ decided that he wanted to serve as an example and encourage broader Jewish and Israeli participation in sport, and that the best manner of doing so was to represent Israel on the world sporting stage.  In October, 2013 AJ decided to pursue speedskating and bobsled, for which he assumed he would have natural athletic carryover from his tenure as an ice-hockey goaltender.  After being informed that finding another potential Israeli athlete to pursue bobsled at the same time, as well as of the significantly higher expense for bobsled over skeleton, AJ tried the sport of skeleton and fell in love after his first trip down the track.  AJ immediately committed to pursuing skeleton exclusively.  AJ still works as a goaltending and skating coach, and hopes to start a foundation to encourage further investment in Jewish and Israeli sports programs to provide much-needed resources and coaching for prospective athletes to help them achieve success.

After discovering skeleton, AJ decided to focus on making the 2022 Olympic games while training part time, and attended his first training camp and race in November, 2014.

After being told that it would be impossible to accomplish an Olympic journey in 4 years (in time for the 2018 Olympic Games), Edelman shifted his focus towards proving that it could in fact be done, and departed Oracle to train full-time. Over the next 2 seasons AJ set Israeli track records at every track he competed at with the exception of the Whistler track.

Treating his mission as one of critical importance, Edelman trained non-stop, watching 6 to 8 hour of skeleton videos on YouTube daily to create neuropathways that would develop his driving skill. According to an interview with the Israeli state media channel GPO, Edelman would ensure to be at a skeleton track every Christmas and new-years day, explaining that “if you are not training on Christmas, your competitors will be…there is not a day that I went to sleep without doing something to better myself in my sport…I have a responsibility as a national athlete to not rest until I achieve a result for the state (Israel) that she can be proud of.” Edelman is nicknamed the “Hebrew Hammer”, a reference to the title character in the movie The Hebrew Hammer.

Edelman’s mission is Israel-centric, and every race prior to taking a run he repeats a mantra: “for myself, for my country, for my people”.

Edelman won 2 medals in international competition for Israel, both in Lake Placid in the 2018 North American Cup competitions.

Personal life and family

Edelman was raised in a loving Modern Orthodox home to parents Cheryl and Elazer Edelman (biomedical engineer, physician, professor). He is the middle of three boys, his older brother is award-winning comedian Alex Edelman, and his younger brother Austin. AJ is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (class of 2014).

Other Activities

AJ davens (acts as a cantor) on the Yamim Noraim (Jewish high holidays) and layning (reading the bible portion) on Simchat Torah, and enjoys acting as ba’al tefilla and chazzan when he travels to various communities for training.

AJ operates a travel booking service (for utilizing frequent flyer points) utilizing the years of experience he has from his extensive travel experiences.

Other hobbies include Japanese animation art (cel) collecting, and fishing.