‘A Jewish Court of Arabia’: Gulf State Jews unite to form umbrella organization

UAE cabinet meeting, Jan. 24, 2012. (WAM Emirates News Agency)

The new organization comprises Jewish groups in six Arab states, giving them a ‘Beth Din of Arabia’

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Jewish communities in the Gulf Arab states announced Monday that they had united to form an umbrella organization, the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC), that will oversee some of the key aspects of “building and enhancing Jewish life in the region.”

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“Today, we announced the creation of @gulfjewish, a network of Jewish communities from all 6 GCC countries who are developing Jewish life in the region,” the organization tweeted on its new Twitter account.

“The AGJC will serve as the umbrella organization for the Jewish communities of the GCC countries,” the organization said. “While each community is independent, we share a common goal & vision – for Jewish life to flourish in the Gulf.”

Dubai-based Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie and Bahrain resident and former Bahrain parliament member Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo are heading the organization.

“The Gulf nations have been very supportive of the growth in Jewish life. But, as more people move in and come to visit, we must tend to their educational, cultural, spiritual, and religious needs by establishing programs and institutions to service these increased needs,” Rabbi Abadie told the Khaleej Times.

The AGJC said it will oversee programming and services, including “the Beth Din of Arabia, the Arabian Kosher Certification Agency, lifecycle events and other community programs.”

The organization is based in the United Arab Emirates and will bring together Jewish residents of the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Beth Din, or Jewish court of law for the adjudication of personal issues, will be based in the UAE, the local newspaper The National reported.

One of the people behind the new organization is Houda Nonoo, Ebrahim Nonoo’s cousin and another prominent member of one of Bahrain’s oldest Jewish families who previously served as the Bahraini Ambassador to the United States.

Houda Nonoo appeared to be tweeting non-stop, thanking and re-tweeting the congratulations to the new body from around the world, including Jason Greenblatt, the former advisor to President Donald Trump, who said, “This is great! Wishing this group much success!”

The American Sephardi Federation tweeted the traditional “Hazaq u’Barukh” greeting, Hebrew for “be strong and be blessed,” to the organizers, praising them for “an incredible effort to promote the flourishing of Gulf Jewish life in the six GCC countries.”

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