(September 3, 2020 / JNS) Jewish Agency for Israel chairman Isaac Herzog, Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz and Keren Hayesod World chairman Sam Grundwerg spoke on Monday with Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Council of the United Arab Emirates Rabbi Yehuda Sarna and agreed to begin providing services to the Jewish community in the UAE, following the U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and the UAE on Aug. 13.
Sarna requested tools to foster Jewish communal life, including Jewish education and identity, as well as summer camps. The possibility of sending a permanent Jewish Agency emissary to the UAE was also discussed. This potential emissary would join the hundreds of Jewish Agency emissaries stationed in Jewish communities around the world.
“After years of operating with great discretion on the margins of the global Jewish community, we are now ready to formally ‘get on the grid,’ ” said Sarna in a statement released by the Jewish Agency. “This partnership with the Jewish Agency brings the interconnectedness we crave.”
“Our conversation with Chief Rabbi Sarna took place on the day the historic Israeli-American delegation took off on an El Al plane to Abu Dhabi,” said Herzog in the statement. “A new chapter in the fascinating history of the Jewish people is being written as we begin working with the Jewish community in the Emirates.”
A special joint team from the Jewish Agency, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Federations of North America will be established in the coming days to work with Sarna to determine local needs.
The Jewish community in the UAE numbers about 1,000 members, centered in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
It’s the first new Jewish community being built in an Arab country in centuries and is comprised of Jews from Europe, North America, South Africa and within the Arab world. Community members work in a variety of fields, serving as teachers, technicians, software developers, nurses and businesspeople.
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