Jews in the United Arab Emirates prepare to celebrate Holocaust Remembrance Day


The United Arab Emirates will welcome Holocaust Memorial Day on Thursday with prayers and testimonies from survivors, said Dr. Elie Abadie, chief rabbi in residence of the Emirates.

The occasion, which falls on January 27 and will also be celebrated in Bahrain, represents a step towards peaceful coexistence between multi-faith societies in the Gulf.

“It’s emotional, sometimes you have to pinch yourself, to make sure it’s real and if it’s really happening, and of course it’s real,” Rabbi Abadie said. The National.

Rabbi Abadie said the memorial is “a testament to the welcoming vision of the authorities here in the UAE and Bahrain, to the commitment to tolerance and coexistence in their region.”

It follows a historic resolution signed in September 2020 by the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to formally establish ties with Israel.

The Abraham Accords were seen as one of the most important breakthroughs in the Middle East peace process, which had stalled for years. They opened the door to diplomatic, trade, travel and business relations between the signatory countries.

Rabbi Abadie, who took office on November 1, 2020, said special memorial prayers for those who were killed and who survived will be held at the upcoming service.

“On the religious side, we have prayers and we have a commemoration tomorrow evening at the Crossroads of the Civilization Museum in Dubai, where a ceremony will take place with speeches and the lighting of candles,” he said.

The Israeli pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will also hold a commemoration with memorial prayers, candles and speeches and will also feature testimonies from survivors and testimonies from children of survivors.

“I believe this whole region is changing and their attitudes are going to change,” Rabbi Abadie said.

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Last May, a commemorative exhibition dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust was held at the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum. Its organizers said it was the first Holocaust-focused exhibition to be staged in the Gulf.

Since the normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel, politicians and business leaders have met and reached many agreements. Defense, technology and energy were particularly popular sectors.

“Life is changing for the better for Jewish communities in the UAE and Bahrain, as they are both recognized and invited to perform prayers, have kosher food, celebrate marriages and live like any other authorized, authorized and recognized community of faith,” Rabbi Abadie said.

“It makes me feel good because we’re able to live together, learn from each other, build community, so it’s a positive feeling,” he said.

Rabbi Abadie said the developments made him nostalgic.

“It takes me back to my childhood in Lebanon, seeing Jews socializing with Muslims, Christians and all kinds of religions in a peaceful and friendly way,” he said.

Rabbi Abadie is fluent in Arabic and six other languages. He was born in Beirut and his family left Lebanon in 1971 when he was only 6 years old. He moved to the United States after eight years.

He belongs to a rabbinic line that dates back to the 15th century and has roots in Spain and France.

Update: January 26, 2022, 6:30 p.m.


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