Bahrain had its first Jewish wedding for over 50 years last month, when the son of Huda Noono, former Jewish Bahraini ambassador to the US, got married, before honeymooning in the UAE. It’s a reason for the Egyptian journalist Suleiman Gouda (via MEMRI) to hail Jews occupying high office in Arab countries as a sign of pluralism. Disappointingly, however, he falls back on the old distinction between Jews and Zionists, which the Abraham Accords are meant to erase. (With thanks: Lily)
In an article in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian journalist Suleiman Gouda writes with nostalgia about the Jewish presence that once existed in the Arab countries. Noting that Bahrain recently saw its first Jewish wedding in 52 years, he uses this as an opportunity to express his views on Jews from Arab countries, on normalization with Israel and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mentioning that this wedding was momentous not only because it was the first Jewish wedding in Bahrain in over a century, but also because the groom was the son of Houda Noono, Bahrain’s former ambassador in Washington, he states that Jews in high-ranking positions used to be a fairly common phenomenon in Arab countries. This is perfectly natural, he says, because Jews are citizens of these countries, no different from other citizens.
According to Gouda, the reversal in the attitude towards the Jews in Arab countries was caused by Israel’s policy, and that today there is confusion between a Jew, namely a follower of the monotheistic religion of Judaism, and an Israeli Jew, who espouses a political ideology that harms the rights of the Palestinian people. Stating that the true homeland of the Arab Jews is not Israel but rather the Arab countries in which they were born and raised, he contends that social pluralism is a source of strength and not a source of weakness.
Israel and Bahrain marked a watershed moment in their relationship, as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrived in the Gulf state to inaugurate Israel’s embassy. The BBC carries this story and The Times of Israel reports:
MANAMA, Bahrain — Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday officially opened Israel’s embassy in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, a year after the two countries agreed to normalize diplomatic relations.
“May our people live in peace and prosperity forever,” Lapid said during the inauguration.
He added in Hebrew: “Israel made a major, historic step today in the Gulf.”
The Abraham Accords between Bahrain and Israel have culminated in the arrival in Israel of Bahrain’s first ambassador. The kingdom, which is coveted by Iran, is ruled by a Sunni elite governing a majority-Shi’a population. The Jerusalem Post reports:
Bahraini Ambassador Khaled Al Jalahma landed in Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday to take up his new post, in what his Foreign Ministry described as another “milestone” in deepening the ties between the two countries.
“A historic journey in the making accompanied by my wife. We are both very excited!” Jalahma tweeted. He posted photographs of their descent from the airplane to the tarmac.
“The opportunity to fulfill His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s vision of peaceful coexistence with all nations is a privilege that I will hold in high regard,” Jalahma tweeted.
The first Barmitzvah in Bahrain in 16 years was held at the oldest and only operational synagogue, reports JNS News.
The Barmitzvah boy read from the Torah scroll that former senior White House adviser Jared Kushner commissioned in honor of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The ceremony was facilitated by the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities, a people-to-people network of Jewish communities in Gulf Community Council (GCC) countries dedicated to developing Jewish life in the region.
The bar mitzvah was part of a weekend of festivities for the AGJC that started with a Shabbat dinner in Manama on Friday evening. The dinner was attended by many diplomats, Bahrainis, and residents of other GCC countries who flew in for the event. The weekend concluded with the group hosting the first authentic Sephardic “Selichot” prayer service in the GCC.
“It is a very exciting time for Jewish life in the GCC as more families celebrate Jewish milestones more publicly,” said AGJC Rabbi Dr. Eli Abadie. “In addition to this young man’s bar mitzvah, we recently celebrated a bat mitzvah for a young woman in Oman, and we have a number of other Jewish life-cycle events which will take place before the end of the year. This is an affirmation of the continued growth of Jewish life in the region.”
For the first time, Bahrain held a Yom Hashoah commemoration in the synagogue in the capital Manama, led by Huda Nonoo, former Bahrain ambassador to the US. Both Bahrain and Dubai took part in the ‘Yellow candle’ project. A webinar is being held under the auspices of the Association of Gulf Jewish communities’. The Jerusalem Post reports:
A Holocaust memorial ceremony was held in the Manama synagogue, Bahrain
For the first time in history, the Jewish community in Bahrain marked Holocaust Memorial day in a virtual ceremony initiated by “The House Of Ten Commandments.”
Only a few months after the signing of the Abraham Accords, of which Bahrain was one of the signatories, a memorable ceremony was held in a Jewish community synagogue that was recently renovated as part of an initiative by the King.
The ceremony was led by Ambassador Houda Nono, a member of a Jewish family who previously served as Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States.
This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.
Point of No Return
Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries
One-stop blog on the Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.