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Bahrain Jews Worship in Public for First Time in Decades

For the first time in decades, Ebrahim Nonoo is leading prayer services in Manama’s renovated synagogue, bringing Jewish traditions into plain view after decades of worship in private.

Bahrain’s tiny Jewish community, about 50 people, have practiced their faith behind closed doors since 1947, when the Gulf country’s only synagogue was destroyed in disturbances at the start of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

But when Bahrain normalized ties with Israel one year ago as part of US-brokered agreements with Arab countries known as the Abraham Accords, it “opened everything” up, Nonoo said.

“We can develop Jewish life in Bahrain because we have a fully functioning synagogue,” Nonoo said.

On September 15, 2020, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates broke with accepted Arab policy that there should be no ties with Israel until it makes peace with the Palestinians, and Sudan and Morocco followed suit.

The move was condemned as a “betrayal” by Palestinian critics, but it was a boon for Bahrain’s Jews.

Last month, they held their first Shabbat services at the synagogue in 74 years, accompanied by expatriate Jews and diplomats. (TOI/ VFI News)

“God, we thank You for freeing Your people in Bahrain, and ask that You free Your followers around the world so all can worship You.”