In the six years since Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, billions of dollars have been poured into the renovation and construction of the city’s transportation system, sporting venues, hotels and urban infrastructure. With the Olympics just months away—the games take place from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21, followed by the Paralympics—Rio is frantically getting itself ready to welcome 10,500 athletes from around the world, as well as the 1.3 million tourists the sporting event is anticipated to draw.
For months, Chabad-Lubavitch of Rio de Janeiro has also been preparing for the influx of Jewish visitors. At least 250 athletes are Jewish, and some 40,000 members of the tribe are expected to descend on the beachside city over the three weeks the games will be played, one-quarter of them Israeli.
“We’ve been working overtime to make sure that every Jew who comes here will have their religious needs fulfilled,” says Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Goldman, regional director of Chabad of Rio de Janeiro. “I’ve been in close contact with my colleagues in Sochi, Russia [host of the 2014 Winter Olympics] and London [2012 Summer Olympics], who did a great job catering to Jewish guests in previous years. They have been very helpful to us in planning our activities.”