Photo Credit: courtesy, Ambassador Houda Nonoo
Matzah baked by the Bahraini Jewish community for the upcoming Passover holiday (5781 / 2021).

Why is this year in the Middle East different from every other year? For a start, Gulf Jews are not only out of hiding, they are opening celebrating Jewish holidays with the aid and full support of their Muslim governments.

The Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC) – representing the Jewish communities of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – this year has planned a range of programming to support and enrich the upcoming holiday of Passover for local Jews.

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Some 650 pounds (at least 300 kilos) of matzah is being shipped to the six countries in the GCC to supply the Jewish population there, along with other kosher-for-Passover holiday food.

Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie will lead a 30-minute Zoom session on “Seder Essentials” for those in the region. Participants are invited to submit any questions live during the program. Those who are interested, can register at shorturl.at/dwJNS.

One week later, on March 31 at the Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, Rabbi Abadie and members of the board along with military chaplains and the Jewish Welfare Board will host a Passover celebration with holiday food and conversation for US troops stationed at the base. The program will be webcast for other US bases in the region.

“It is very exciting to see such demand for Passover programming in the Gulf this year,” said Rabbi Abadie. “As many will be leading their own seder this year due to less travel because of the pandemic, we are looking forward to offering the Seder Essentials webinar in order to provide them with tools and tips for doing so.”

“We created the AGJC in order to share resources among the Jewish communities in the Gulf and one of our first projects was the coordination of matzah for the upcoming holiday,” said AGJC President Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo.

The AGJC oversees programming and services such as the Beth Din of Arabia, the Arabian Kosher Certification Agency, lifecycle events and other community programs. For more information, visit www.gulfjewish.org.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.