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As athletes get ready to represent their country in the 2014 Winter Olympics, a Hudson Valley local is making his preparations as well. As our Alexandra Weishaupt reports, Ellenville’s own Rabbi JJ Hecht is heading to Sochi.
ELLENVILLE, N.Y. -- “The players are representing USA, I'm representing the Hudson Valley, Ellenville in particular, I feel I'm taking my entire congregation and the community at large with me,” said Rabbi JJ Hecht.
With an open mind and an open heart, Rabbi Hecht is taking his trade half way around the world to Sochi. It’s there that he’ll offer services and spread spiritual guidance amongst the top performing athletes in the world.
“They work their whole life for such an amazing opportunity, and it's their time to shine, they deserve it," said the Rabbi. "They're also representing their country to unite the entire world, so it's a very big honor for them."
Hecht will be joined by other rabbis from Brooklyn, Israel, and Russia. Together they’ll form part of a clergy team comprised of different faiths.
The opportunity didn’t come as a complete surprise for the Rabbi who says he first made his connections in Russia on a three-week 'roving rabbi' expedition in West Ukraine in 2012, and again during Passover in 2013.
“When the Olympics needed a clergy team, through Chabad they contacted me because I’ve been there in the past,” he said.
And with tensions running high amidst the latest security concerns, the rabbi says it’s important to take these threats seriously, but always keep your faith.
“I really believe if we're gonna do good, we're going to help others, no bad will befall us, the idea of the Olympics is to unite countries, not to draw them apart, so I feel that nothing bad will come about,” said Rabbi Hecht.
Hecht leaves for Russia on Monday.