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Bahraini Jews are very well integrated in the society

Though there are only about 50 Jews currently living in Bahrain, they have a representative in the Shoura Council and also have one seat in the parliament.

16 September 2020 21:33

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to normalise their relatins with Israel. Both countries on Tuesday signed the agreement with Israel at the White House in Washington DC.

As a leader of the Jewish community in Bahrain, Ibrahim Nonoo was very happy too see that historic moment. The agreement will lead the establishment of a diplomatic relationship between Bahrain and Israel, will make Bahraini Jews can visit Israel and pray in the Western Wall.

Though there are only about 50 Jews currently living in Bahrain, they have a representative in the Shura Council and also have one seat in the parliament. They decided no to make Aliyah to Israel because they are sure Bahrain is a safe place for Jews.

"Because they are very well integrated in the society and Bahrainis have never been harmful to the Jews," said Ibrahim Nonoo in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp call last Sunday.

Excerpts:

How was your response while you knew that Bahrain has agreed to normalise their relations with Israel?

It is a historic moment and I am very happy to see it.

What did you do first after knowing about that?

After hearing that news, I was sending messages to my friends and relatives in Israel and getting feedbacks from them.

Have you expected about this moment before?

When we saw that UAE has normalised relationship with Israel, we thought maybe Bahrain would be next. We can't expect about that but we were sure. Last year, we had Shlomo Amar came to Bahrain. He came for the interfaith dialoge. That was also very big opening for us.

How about the position of Bahraini king and royal family against Jews and Israel during this time?

It's wonderful to have a very emphatic king, a king who is very moderate, very open, and looks after everybody. Absolutely true, we had a festival in the synagogue. We are looking forward now for refurbishing synagogue and getting it ready for Purim next year.

We are really hope a nice celebration then. Hopefully we will have minyan every Friday to be able go to synagogue and use it publicly.

How many members of Jewish community in Bahrain?

About 50 community members at the moment.

Are they indigeneous Bahraini Jews or expatriate?

No, they are indidegenous. We are the ony indigeneous group Jews in the Gulf.

Before the creation of Israel, how many Jews lived in Bahrain?

There was about 800-900 Jews in 1930s and 1940s.

Why the Jews are currently living in Bahrain not to choose for Aliyah to Israel?

Because they are very well integrated in the society and Bahrainis have never been harmful to the Jews. In 1948, when the Palestinian story happened, it was a group of expatriate port workers who were yemenis, started looting the houses of the Jewish people and they caused a fire in the synagogue, all Bahrainis tried to protect the Jews.

I have some documented cases when the Bahraini students made sure the Jews were not harmed. So that was very very good reason why we knew that Bahrain is a safe place.

A number of Jews decide to leave Bahrain after 1948 and then 10 and 15 years later, anothe group decided toleave because they could'n have a big enough community, so their daughters could not get married here, so their children couldn't actually find partners here.

So they decided to go back and there are only remains 60-70 Jews who have Bahraini passports.

Is there any representative from the Jewish community in the parliament and the government?

Yes, we have Nancy Khedouri. She is the Shoura Council member and we have a seat in the Upper House for the Jewish community.

How many seat?

One seat for the Jewish community.

How many synagogue in Bahrain?

We only have one.

Where is it?

In Manama.

During this time, are Bahraini Jews allowed to visit Israel?

No reason for us to actually go because our relatives who went there. They resided in Israel for a while then after that most of them left, went to America. So we have a lot of relatives in America and Europe. And also because there were no relationsho between Bahrain and Israel, then we avoided going there.

Have you got a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the agreement reached between Bahrain and Israel?

No.

What is your plan for the Jewish community in Bahrain after the normalisation agreement between Bahrain and Israel?

Our plans are first of all to make sure the synagogue are refurbished properly and then to start using it, to bring our Torah back from the UK after restoration, and to start having hopefully a rabbi who can come on a regular basis and do the festivals for us, and to be able to use the synagogue on a regular basis.

Do you have any plan to establish a yeshiva in Bahrain?

No plan for that. We do have a plan just to be able to educate the ones who want to be educated in the language. So they can pray properly in the language (Hebrew).

Are all Jews currently living in Bahrain Judaism observers?

They are all Judaism.

 

 

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