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Buoyed by Abraham Accords, Jewish life thriving in Gulf states

The recent peace deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have given courage to the small Jewish communities living in these Muslim-majority nations in the half year since the Abraham Accords were signed. 

According to a report, kosher food is now widely available and Jewish holidays are being celebrated openly.

“It’s just going to take a bit of time to seep through before we see a Jewish restaurant or a kosher restaurant spring up from somewhere,” said Ebrahim Nonoo, leader of Bahrain’s Jewish community.

After the Abraham Accords in September and prior to the COVID-related travel lockdown in Israel, tens of thousands of Israeli tourists and businesspeople poured into the Gulf states. Hotels made sure to have kosher menus to offer their Israeli clientele. That in turn made a positive impact on the small, local Jewish communities. 

“A door has been opened,” said Elie Abadie, the new senior rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates. “I think there is more openness and more welcome and enthusiasm for the presence of a Jewish community, Jewish individuals, Jewish tradition and culture.”

The Jewish community in the UAE is the largest in the Gulf with an estimated 1,000 members.

Israel and the UAE are currently in talks to allow Israelis back into the Gulf state, as early as April, but only to those who have proof of the COVID vaccine. Israel’s borders are still closed to Emiratis and all other tourists.

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