Middle East Correspondent
Middle East Correspondent
For years, Israel was seen as a major enemy in the region. But two years ago, a number of Arab countries concluded agreements with the Jewish state – the Abraham Accords. Enemies suddenly became allies – and not just on paper, it turns out in the Emirates. The Jewish community is growing and now consists of about 10,000 people. Even Israelis feel at home there.
a new kosher supermarket, kosher restaurants, a fast-growing synagogue and Jewish school; Rabbi Levi Dutchman is proud. But the most important event of the past year was his wedding. 1,500 invitees from different cultures and backgrounds, rabbis from Iran and America, celebrated together the traditional Jewish wedding of the rabbi and his bride, Leah Haddad.
“This was very personal, very special,” says Deutchman. “All people from different traditions, religious backgrounds and different cultures. The message was clear: we are all different, but it is important that we meet and learn from each other. This way we can work towards a better future for our children.”
And according to Dushman, 29, the UAE is the perfect place for that. Born in New York, eight years ago he became the first rabbi in Abu Dhabi. “Since normalization with Israel, things are moving quickly. We are working with the emirate’s authorities on infrastructure to create solid foundations for a Jewish community here.”
His bride, Leah Haddad, had no idea what to expect from life in the Emirates. She grew up in Belgium, lived in Israel, and moved after the wedding. “I end up in a warm bath. The first thing I felt when I got here was how welcome I was here. A rapidly growing Jewish community in a Muslim country, in the Middle East, this is a huge challenge and I am part of it,” says the daughter of the Chief Rabbi of Brussels. She is looking forward to organizing Activities such as Mega challah-bake (baking competition) as she always did with her mother in Belgium.
The famous Klezmer Band was flown in from New York. When Duquemann pulled his Emirati friend, Abdullah Al Mazmi, onto the dance floor, he was momentarily puzzled about what had hit him.
Rabbi’s video His boyfriend in white dancing together went viral on social media. Reporter Daisy Mohr caught up with the friends in Dubai and said:
The dancing rabbi Duckmann and his friend Abdallah go viral
Uday Zamir and his family traded their home in Tel Aviv for Dubai more than six months ago. “I never thought I’d ever live here,” he says on the couch in his rented apartment. “For us Israelis, it was a no-go here two years ago. If you had told me that five years ago, I would have laughed at you.” Zamir loves the shiny city full of beautiful cars and tall buildings. “It was like a dream come true. I only knew about it from movies and TV.”
For Zamir, the strategic location was the deciding factor. Conveniently located between Europe and India, Dubai is ideal for his diamond business. Several times a week, he and his wife receive calls from others considering moving. “How is it there? Safe enough? Questions like that. I encourage them. This is a good place to do business. I feel safer here than at home, it’s quiet and tax-free.”
His two teenage daughters attend an international school because they are too old for the recently opened Jewish elementary school. The first day in the new class was a bit uncomfortable for the little ones. “So, where are you from?” asked. She said, “Israel.” Everyone looked surprised. “Some might have thought it was a little weird, but others said, Oh, wow. Wow, Israel.”
She is happy with her new friends from Lebanon and South America and goes to the beach on weekends. All the Zamirs say they have not faced any uncomfortable situations in recent months. Adi Zamir: “I’ve never had anyone say anything unkind because I’m Jewish or from Israel.”
Every Friday the family goes to the synagogue and there they meet the rest of the community. They pray in a villa and then eat together.
‘It is amazing’
According to Dushman, an estimated ten thousand Jews now live in the Emirates. Hundreds of thousands come to visit. “If you look at the Jewish demographics 80 years ago in this region, you will find large communities in Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco and Tunisia, they no longer exist. But this new community is now growing very quickly in the east, this is wonderful,” says Dutchman at the halal restaurant. A hotel in Dubai. Ahead, a group of Israeli tourists line up to start the kosher buffet. Tourists come in large groups to discover this unknown world. They go on safari in the desert, do shopping in malls and discover this unknown world.
Shimon Ben Shitrit created a special menu for his guests. “Many tourists and all kinds of Israeli delegations and businessmen Sky is the limitfor kosher cuisine in the Emirates.
“Pop culture enthusiast. Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Analyst. Student. Explorer.”