Rio de Janeiro will open two new Orthodox synagogues ahead of the Brazilian city’s hosting of the Olympic Games in 2016.
One of the new synagogues will open in August in the neighborhood of Ipanema, the famed tourist destination known for its beach scene. The opening was announced Wednesday on the website of CONIB, the umbrella group representing Brazil’s Jewish communities.
Additionally, the Chabad Lubavitch movement is preparing to open a kosher hotel with a synagogue ahead of the games.
Rio de Janeiro has approximately 20 synagogues serving 40,000 people, but receives many Jewish tourists. Many more are expected when Rio hosts the Olympic Games next year.
In Ipanema, the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue and community center will have 20,000 square feet of space, featuring study rooms, event halls and libraries in addition to the Sephardic-style shul, the institution’s rabbi, Gabriel Aboutboul, told JTA on Thursday.
Ipanema, Aboutboul said, currently has one small synagogue serving about 1,000 Jewish families who reside in the area. That building, he added, “no longer has the capacity to cater to everyone, forcing some to go out of the neighborhood for religious and community services.”
The new building, he said, “is meant to fix that for the new generation.”
“Naturally, the new synagogue will service tourists, though its prime function is for the community,” Aboutboul said.
Last year, Ipanema and the adjacent coastal neighborhood of Copacabana received a new eruv, a demarcation of an area that permits observant Jews to carry objects on Shabbat.