Meet the rabbi comfortable walking on the streets of Saudi Arabia

Rabbi Yaakov Herzog discusses being a Jew in Saudi Arabia and efforts to establish Jewish community infrastructure there.

Tags: Rabbis Riyadh
Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rabbi Herzog
Rabbi Herzog
Courtesy Kan - Channel 11 News

"It's as if I were to walk on Yaffo or Dizengoff Street, no difference," said Rabbi Yaakov Herzog about walking on the streets of Riyadh.

Rabbi Herzog, from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, is serving as a rabbi in Saudi Arabia. He spoke to Kan 11 about life in the kingdom.

"I walk around here with this clothing and everyone knows I'm Jewish," he told the camera as he sat in a Riyadh cafe next to a Saudi friend.

The rabbi described his role in Saudi Arabia. "If someone needs something, I deal with it. If you turn to the consulate and ask for a rabbi, you'll be directed to me."

He said he plans to eventually establish full-fledged Jewish community infrastructure in Saudi Arabia to accommodate the families of Jewish businessmen who come to the country.

"The foundation is that there be a space - a synagogue, kindergarten, mikva and school. We need to know there will be a space."

Asked when a first synagogue in Saudi Arabia could be expected, he said, "It takes time. You need authorizations. But almost everything you need we provide."

"I have a small staff which provides kosher food, mezuzas, tefillin, etc. There's no mikva, but there are solutions for women who want to ritually immerse."

Rabbi Herzog currently uses an American passport to enter the kingdom, but said that everyone around him knows he is Israeli.

"This is not an illusion. Every Jew who lands there will not be accepted as a foreigner and will not feel a stranger. This is the reality. In the last two years we have received an excellent lesson that things are changing."

He said that future normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel is a reality "clear as the sun."

"All the infrastructure for something like that exists. If they receive Jews from around the world, Israelis can also be included."



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