Tag: Jews of Dubai and Gulf states

Jews look for a home base in Dubai

As thousands of Jews make Dubai their home, the need for a permanent central synagogue becomes more acute. But the authorities have only offered space for religious sanctuaries on the outskirts of the city, far from where most Jews live. AP reports (via the Independent):

Rabbi Elie Abadie: ‘you can’t grow a community in a hotel’

Every Saturday, in secluded beach villas, hotel banquet halls and luxury apartment towers across Dubai, Jews arrive to worship at some of the world’s most hidden synagogues even as the United Arab Emirates encourages the dramatic growth and openness of its Jewish community.

Plans to build a permanent sanctuary for Dubai’s fast-expanding congregation have sputtered to a standstill, Jewish leaders say. The new community is running up against hurdles that religious groups long have grappled with in this federation, where the state’s official religion of Islam is closely monitored, non-Muslim practice is controlled and religious buildings are limited.

The fast-growing population of Jewish immigrants to the UAE — including an influx of Israelis after the countries normalized relations in 2020 and recently of Russians after the war on Ukraine — may feel freer than ever to express their identity in this autocratic Arab sheikhdom, which has sought to brand itself as an oasis of religious tolerance.

A Jewish nursery has sprung up. So has a mikvah, or ritual bath for women. New kosher restaurants do brisk business. Recent Passover seders drew thousands. But without a home base, some Jewish leaders fear a state of perpetual limbo.

“You cannot grow a community in a hotel,” said Elie Abadie, senior rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates. “It gives the feeling of instability, of not belonging.”

Gulf Jews hold first Selihot service

The Association of Gulf Jewish Communities  has headed back to its Sephardi roots by holding its  first Selihot service in the run up to the High Holidays. The Jerusalem Post reports: 
For the first time, the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC), the people-to-people network of Jewish communities from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that are developing Jewish life in the region will hold a joint Selichot event.
This will be the first event of its kind in the region. The countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.
The AGJC  livestreamed an authentic Sephardic service in August featuring special guest hazzanim. 

First Barmitzvah held in Bahrain

The first Barmitzvah in Bahrain in 16 years was held at the oldest and only operational synagogue, reports JNS News.

The Barmitzvah boy reads from a Torah scroll commissioned by Jared Kushner

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.”

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Bahrain synagogue to be re-dedicated next month

First Arab world Holocaust exhibition staged in Dubai

An exhibition showcasing the events of the Holocaust has opened in Dubai at the Crossroads of Civilisations Museum. Under its open-minded founder, Ahmed Obaid al Mansour, the Museum, which previously hosted the first ever Yom Hashoah commemoration. While the Holocaust exhibition is a welcome and significant initiative, it is not known whether the exhibition covers the Nazi-inspired Farhud or the role played by pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem.

The Museum of the Crossroads of Civilsation in Dubai

(CNN) — A Holocaust memorial exhibition billed as the first of its kind has opened in the United Arab Emirates.
“It reminds us that the unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning.” Kathrin Meyer, secretary general of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, told CNN. 

“As we witness the generation of Holocaust survivors sadly pass, memorials and museums become all the more important in ensuring that this horrific event is never forgotten.” 

 The “We Remember” exhibition at the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai showcases first-hand testimonies of Holocaust survivors and opened to the public last month
Rabbi Elie Abadie, senior rabbi at the Jewish Council of the Emirates, says this new permanent exhibition is hugely significant as nothing similar has ever been staged in the region. 

“Although most people in the Middle East know the Holocaust took place, they do not speak or learn about it as much. Now, the region is opening up, and this exhibition gives tribute to what has happened and demonstrates the public recognition of history.” 

He says the Holocaust also took place at a smaller scale in Middle Eastern countries in the 1940s, where Arab Jews in Libya, Tunisia and Iraq were persecuted because of Nazi-inspired teachings.
He says Hitler’s ideologies reached beyond Europe, and that it was important for those who live or travel to this region to be aware of that.

 The museum showcases art produced by different civilizations and cultures over several centuries. It’s only fitting, then, that it should host this new display, the curators say.
The mission is to educate and raise awareness about the Holocaust among Dubai’s over 200 different nationalities.

 The one-room exhibition, which sits alongside the museum’s six other galleries, takes you through the events leading up to, during, and after the Holocaust, through the eyes of people who lived it.
The Nazis killed more than six million Jews during the Holocaust, along with millions of others including disabled and LGBT people, political dissidents, and religious and ethnic minorities. 

Ahmed Obaid Almansoori, an Emirati who founded the private museum, says the timing to open a Holocaust exhibition in the region felt right.

“The Holocaust was a crime against humanity. And when you have an event like that, you must separate it from other events. A museum is not a political place, it’s a journey through history.” 

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Dubai Rabbi chants Shoah prayer in Arabic

With thanks Eli T, Niran)



A first in Dubai: Rabbi Elie Abadie, head of the Association of Gulf Jewish communities, recites a prayer for the victins of the Holocaust.

 The commemoration took place at the Museum of the Crossroads of Civilisations, Dubai. It demonstrates the newfound freedom with which Jews in the UAE flaunt their identity.

 Rabbi Abadie recited the prayer in Arabic.

The Rabbi, who is also a physician, was born in Beirut and was forced to leave as a refugee. He has served  Sephardi congregations in Manhattan and was chairman of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) which advocates for the rights of MENA Jewish refugees.

Rabbi Abadie interviewed on the John Batchelor show about the last Jews of Yemen.


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