Faith helps for 2012 London Olympics

By Jessica Elgot, September 21, 2010

The capital's rabbis have been called up to volunteer as Jewish chaplains for Olympic athletes at the London 2012 Games.

Jewish chaplains will be recruited for the Games to support the religious needs of athletes and visitors to the Olympic site. Many rabbis in the Redbridge community, close to the Stratford site, have already expressed interest in the positions.

Rabbi Richard Jacobi of Woodford Liberal synagogue said: "I'm certainly discussing doing it. It's important
to show our hospitality to everyone who visits for the Olympics and Paralympics.

"My colleagues in Redbridge and I have been discussing ideas such as an Open Shabbat to welcome fellow Jews, and others, who are visiting for the Olympics, and I am keen to join
a pluralist chaplaincy for anyone who might need spiritual support.

"The fortieth anniversary of the Munich Olympic tragedy will also provide many poignant moments, to which we need to be ready to respond."

Rabbi Geoffrey Hyman of Ilford Synagogue said he was considering volunteering. He said: "I will certainly investigate what options there are for me to help with. There will be a lot of Jewish people there, and many Israelis, and it is important that people from the local community can support them and make them feel welcome."

The London Jewish Forum, along with Maccabi GB, UJIA and Lord Janner formed the Jewish Committee for the London Games in 2008, encouraging Jewish schools and youth groups to be involved and developing Jewish welfare and cultural services for the games. Jewish Volunteering Network and the CST are also expected to play
a role in the games.

Adrian Cohen, chair of JCLG, said: "The Jewish community contributes hugely to sporting excellence around the world and the JCLG is looking at launching a number of volunteer opportunities in and around the Games."

The United Synagogue is believed to have recommended rabbis Barry Marcus and David Mason for chaplaincies at the Games.

Last updated: 1:57pm, September 21 2010