First Jewish wedding held in Bahrain in more than half a century

Published: October 11, 2021

The first Jewish wedding in 52 years has been held in Bahrain, a year after the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

The event at the Ritz Carlton Manama, ordained by the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC, was also the first strictly kosher wedding in the Kingdom’s history and was arranged by the Orthodox Union, the world’s largest kosher certification agency.

Ambassador Houda Nonoo, the former Bahraini Ambassador to the US, tweeted about the wedding noting that the couple who got married are her son and daughter-in-law. The nuptials took place on Sunday.

Yesterday was historic as we celebrated the first Jewish wedding in #Bahrain in 52 years! While I know that every mother thinks their child’s wedding is monumental, this one truly was! it’s very hard to find adequate words to describe how much it means for it to be my son

— Houda Nonoo (@hnonoo75) October 11, 2021

AGJC Rabbi Dr. Eli Abadie said: “All weddings are exciting events as we celebrate the creation of a new Jewish family.’

“This wedding was even more significant as it was the first Jewish wedding in more than half a century in the GCC’s only indigenous Jewish community.”

“I was honored to officiate the wedding. It is so fulfilling for me to see a resurgence of Jewish life in this region and to assist families throughout the region pray and experience lifecycle events in the GCC.”

Dating back to the 1880s, the Bahrain Jewish community is the only indigenous Jewish community in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and has the only operational synagogue (House of Ten Commandments) and Jewish cemetery in the region.

The weekend included two additional ceremonies, a Shabbat Chatan and a Henna ceremony, the latter of which is customary in Sephardic Jewish communities.

The wedding is part of a series of Jewish lifecycle events that the AGJC has facilitated since its inception in February 2021, including a bat mitzvah in Oman and a bar mitzvah in Bahrain.

“This wedding was an important moment for our family, the community here in Bahrain, and more broadly, for the Jewish community in the region,” said AGJC President Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo. “The atmosphere was euphoric as we sat around the Chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) which symbolizes the new home being built by the couple, it was also symbolic of the opportunity to further grow Jewish life in the region.”

“It is our hope that we will host more Jewish weddings in the region which will lead to more young couples starting their families here and the further growth of our community,” added Nonoo.

Bahrain and Gulf neighbor United Arab Emirates normalized relations with Israel last year in the Abraham Accords that built on shared business interests and worries about Iran. Sudan and Morocco followed suit.

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