By Houda Nonoo, Alex Peterfreund, JPost—
Jewish life in the Gulf has increased dramatically over the last decade. Many have come here for business reasons and stayed because of the wonderful lifestyle. While you may have heard of – and visited – the Jewish communities in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, you may be surprised to hear that there are Jewish families and individuals living in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It is with this in mind that the local Jewish communities of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have come together to announce the formation of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC).
The genesis for the creation of the new AGJC took place during the novel coronavirus pandemic when many of us started attending the Jewish Council of the Emirates’ pre-Shabbat Zooms and met each other. As we got to know one another on the session, we realized that there were certain resources we could share.
This week, the Jewish communities of Bahrain and the Emirates are the largest in the region and we can assist the Jews in the other GCC countries in getting matzah for Passover, memorial (yahrtzeit) candles, prayer books (siddurim) and Bibles (Chumashim), etc. Our hope is that this people-to-people network will create more opportunities for Jewish life in the region. We are all here to support one another.
While each of our communities remain independent, we share a common goal and vision – for Jewish life in the GCC to flourish for the benefit of both residents and visitors. We are doing this through a variety of initiatives such as the Beth Din of Arabia which is in the process of being established to assist with issues pertaining to personal status, inheritance and voluntary business dispute resolutions in the region. The Arabian Kosher Certification Agency is in the process of being created to oversee kashrut certification regionally using the same set of standards throughout all six Gulf countries, thereby making it easier for Jewish individuals to live in or travel around the Gulf. One of our first events will be a virtual megillah reading on Purim that we invite Jews around the world to join us for via Zoom. Continue Reading….