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There are around 1,000 Jews in the UAE

"There is great pride in being a member of the Jewish community of the UAE. We are happy to contribute to the flourishing of the UAE," said Rabbi Yehuda Sarna.

25 Agustus 2020 23:02

More than two months before the historic peace deal between the United of Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel Israel was achieved, in early of June, for the first time a Jews community in the Gulf country publicly exposed themselves. Through a video shared on its Twitter account, they prayed for the welfare and wellbeing of the people and the leaders of the UAE.

Their leader is Rabbi Yehuda Sarna. He was appointed Chief Rabbi of the United Arab Emirates in 2019. He welcomes and praises the normalisation deal between the UAE and Israel. "This is a family reunion as the Children of Abraham," said Rabbi Yehuda Sarna in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp yesterday.

Excerpts:

How do you see about the peace treaty between UAE and Israel?

This is a family reunion as the Children of Abraham.

Have you predicted that will happen this year?

I had no idea. I am not a political analyst, but it appears that Ambassador Otaiba's "Sadat moment" (refers to UEA Ambassador for the US Yusuf al-Utaibah) of directly addressing the Israeli public on annexation precipitated the rapid movement.

What will be positive impacts for Jewish community in UAE after this deal?

The major centers of Jewish life in the world are the US and Israel, with about six million Jews in each (there are only about 14-15 million Jews in the whole world). Jews in the UAE have largely been dependent on the US and to a certain extent, Europe. The ease of travel and communication between the UAE and Israel enables the UAE Jewish population to access the other major center of Jewish life.

How many members of Jews community in UAE?

About 1000, but we expect it to grow very quickly

Where do they live?

Most of the Jewish community members live in Dubai, but many in Abu Dhabi as well.

Is there any synagogue in UAE?

During the pandemic, we have moved from a physical location to Zoom services every Friday, when we have many more people joining. We have begun the planning stages for re-opening, though we will need to consider how to absorb increased capacity.

Before pandemic, where is the synagogue?

In Dubai. Actually it is a house functioned as a synagogue.

Since when?

2015.

Is it the only synagogue in the UAE?

A few months a go we opened a new synagogue in Dubai.

What do you think about the project of Abraham House in Abu Dhabi which also consist of a synagogue?

It is exciting for the UAE, the region and the world. In an age of intolerance, of increased attacks on sacred spaces, this initiative symbolizes the mutual respect necessary to carry us forward as a global community.

What do you expect for the life of Jewish community in UAE after the peace deal between UAE and Israel?

There is great pride in being a member of the Jewish community of the UAE. We are happy to contribute to the flourishing of the UAE. Many of our friends and relatives who have never visited are all of a sudden curious and excited to learn more about the UAE and we hope to nurture this curiosity.

Was there any anti-Jews incident in UAE before?

Not to anyone in the congregation.

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