Rabbi Will Serve As Jewish Chaplain at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics
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Rabbi Will Serve As Jewish Chaplain at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics

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Rabbi Selig Auerbach’s pastoral duties will be greatly extended over the next few weeks, as he serves as the Jewish chaplain during the 1980 Winter Olympics here.

In addition to his usual role as rabbi at the Lake Placid Synagogue, with a membership of 10 families, Auerbach will be the Jewish chaplain at Camp Adirondack, which will house the National Guard and State personnel, and on call at the Olympic Village. (Camp Adirondack normally functions as a minimum security prison, but inmates have been temporarily relocated until after the Olympics.)

The only Jewish member of the Olympics Religious Affairs Committee which is composed of some 10 local clergymen, Auerbach said in a telephone interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that this is the first time in the history of the Olympics that religion has been officially recognized.

His committee’s major responsibilities for athletes and spectators will include emergency human services, local religious entertainment, religious literature distribution, provision of worship services and religious media coverage. Chaplaincy service at the Olympic Village will be available 24 hours a day, with a dozen chaplains serving on a stating basis.


Lake Placid Synagogue will provide daily afternoon-evening services, Auerbach said, and also will serve as a warm-up station and coffee house. Although he does not anticipate a tremendous demand for daily minyans, he has already heard from one spectator who has five yartzeits during the two weeks of the Olympics. From the support staff who are already at Lake Placid, he has only been contacted by one Jew, a person affiliated with ABC television. He has also been informed that four Israeli media people will attend.

A letter was sent to all teams stating that arrangements for kosher food would be available at the Olympic Village, but he has not yet received a request for this service. The only Jewish team member of whom he is presently aware is an American woman who will ski for a South American or Central American country, but she has not contacted him, Auerbach said.

A native of Germany, Auerbach has lived in Lake Placid since 1961. He was educated at Maximilian University, and Heldesheimer Seminary in Berlin, and Jews College, London, and come to the United States in 1941.

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