For First Time in Over 50 Years, Jewish Couple Gets Married in Bahrain

Published: October 11, 2021

The son of Houda Nonoo – Bahrain’s former envoy to the United States and the first Jewish Bahraini to hold the position of ambassador – wed his wife in a milestone for the Jewish community in the Gulf nation.

“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.” she added, posting a picture of her son and his bride under a wedding canopy, gazing out at the Gulf.

A local Jewish leader described the wedding as the start of a “new path” for his small community.

The Abraham Accords, a normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, was signed at the White House last September. Later on, Sudan and Morocco also joined the accords, which include cooperation on a variety of civilian matters, and the mutual opening of diplomatic delegations. In the year since, Jewish life in the Gulf has come out of the closet, with the opening of new communal facilities and an increase in kosher accommodations for Jewish tourists and businesspeople.

“Of course, with the Abraham Accords we are now starting on a new path,” said Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo, president of the Bahrain Jewish Community and the ambassador’s cousin.

The community also recently celebrated a Bar Mitzvah in Manama’s only synagogue, which was reopened last year for the first time since the 1940s.

“We are now having services every Saturday,” he said, noting that while the community of less than 40 has a Torah scroll, it is still looking for a rabbi.

While the community has generally been tolerated, Nonoo said, its members usually sent their children abroad for schooling as a kind of insurance policy. He added that young people would commonly marry out of the country, especially in Britain and the United States.

“Everybody was getting married abroad so were really very excited and very happy that we had our first wedding since 1967,” he said. “The excitement was really clear to be seen with both the Jewish visitors that came from abroad and with the locals who are friends of the family.”

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