Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie
Rabbi Dr. Elie AbadieCourtesy of the photographer

As Jewish life continues to flourish and grow in the Gulf, the local Jewish communities of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have come together to share resources by forming the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC).

The AGJC is a network of the Jewish communities (people-to-people) from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries who are developing Jewish life in the region. While each community is independent, they share a common goal and vision: for Jewish life in the GCC to flourish for the benefit of both residents and visitors.

Under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, based in Dubai, and president Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo, based in Bahrain, the group is partnering on different communal programs and services so that their resources will enhance each other. The Association’s board consists of members from all six Gulf countries who together will forge the path forward for growing Jewish life in the Gulf.

The Beth Din of Arabia (Jewish court) 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 (kosher 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.

“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,” said Rabbi Abadie.

“Each one of our communities has so much to offer the other. While maintaining our independence, this new association allows us to pool our resources to the betterment of all Jews in the Gulf,” said Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo. “While our Jewish community has been part of the fabric of Bahrain society for over a hundred years, we appreciate the needs of some of the smaller or newer communities in the region and believe we can help them flourish and navigate growth in this part of the world.”

“The Association of Gulf Jewish Communities represents an unprecedented partnership between the Jews of the Gulf", Ambassador Houda Nonoo said. Nonoo is an AGJC board member and the former Bahraini Ambassador to the US. She is the first Jewish Ambassador to be appointed from an Arab country.

"While each of our communities is independent, we share a common goal and vision to grow Jewish life in the Gulf for both the benefit of our immediate local communities but also for the Jewish tourists who have and continue to visit the region", Nonoo added, "We are doing this through a variety of initiatives such as the Arabian Kosher Certification Agency and the Beth Din of Arabia. One of our first events will be a virtual megillah reading on Purim".