The first bar mitzvah in Bahrain in 16 years was held over the weekend at the House of Ten Commandments, the oldest and only operational synagogue in a Gulf Cooperation Council country.

The bar mitzvah boy read from the Torah scroll that former senior White House adviser Jared Kushner commissioned in honor of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

The ceremony was facilitated by the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities, a people-to-people network of Jewish communities in GCC countries dedicated to developing Jewish life in the region.

The bar mitzvah was part of a weekend of festivities for the AGJC that started with a Shabbat dinner in Manama on Friday evening. The dinner was attended by many diplomats, Bahrainis, and residents of other GCC countries who flew in for the event. The weekend concluded with the group hosting the first authentic Sephardic “Selichot” prayer service in the GCC.

“It is a very exciting time for Jewish life in the GCC as more families celebrate Jewish milestones more publicly,” said AGJC Rabbi Dr. Eli Abadie. “In addition to this young man’s bar mitzvah, we recently celebrated a bat mitzvah for a young woman in Oman, and we have a number of other Jewish life-cycle events which will take place before the end of the year. This is an affirmation of the continued growth of Jewish life in the region.”

“This weekend’s bar mitzvah was a joyous occasion for our whole community, and we wish the young man and his family a mazal tov,” said AGJC president Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo.

“We are thrilled to share this weekend with the broader AGJC community and our Muslim friends who joined us for the festivities, including the bar mitzvah,” added Nonoo. “One of our guests shared that this was her first time in Bahrain, and she came for a Shabbat dinner and a bar mitzvah.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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