About The Association of Gulf Jewish Communities
Modern Jewish life in the Gulf began in the 1880s when Jews arrived in Bahrain. Since then, Jewish communities of various sizes have developed in the other five Gulf countries, including in the United Arab Emirates which is currently the largest Jewish community in the Gulf. While each community is independent, they share a common goal and vision – for Jewish life to flourish in the Gulf for the benefit of both residents and visitors. The Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC) was founded in 2021 as a network of the Jewish communities (people-to-people) from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries who are developing Jewish life in the region.
The AGJC aims to enhance all facets of Jewish life in the Gulf. Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, based in Dubai, is providing spiritual guidance to association members. Under his leadership, the Beth Din of Arabia (Jewish Court) is in the process of being established to assist with issues pertaining to personal status and voluntary business dispute resolutions. The Arabian Kosher Certification Agency is in the process of being created to oversee kashrut (kosher certification) throughout the Gulf using the same set of standards throughout all six countries, therefore making it easier for Jewish individuals to live in or travel around the Gulf. The pre-Shabbat Zoom, created by the Jewish Council of the Emirates, has brought the Jewish communities of the Gulf together during the pandemic. Participants continue to join each week to pray together, listen to the weekly Torah portion, and hear from prominent cultural and religious leaders.
The Jewish communities in the Gulf vary in size from just a couple of Jews to larger, more established Jewish communities. Despite their differences in size, together, these communities can harness their expertise and resources to enhance Jewish life regionally. Pooling the intellectual and spiritual resources from the UAE, the historic synagogue and community in Bahrain, and the online platform connecting everyone in the region, different communal services are offered and shared among the members so that their resources will enhance each other.