Bahrain’s Jewish community in celebrates first bar mitzvah in 16 years

Bar mitzvah marks a comeback for Jewish life along the Persian Gulf.


The Jewish community in Bahrain celebrated a milestone this weekend when it held a bar mitzvah, the first in the Gulf country in 16 years.

The Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC), the network of Jewish communities from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that are developing Jewish life in the region, facilitated the event at Manama’s House of Ten Commandments, the oldest synagogue in the GCC.

The bar mitzvah boy, whose name was not released, read from the Torah that former senior White House adviser Jared Kushner commissioned in honor of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

The bar mitzvah was part of a weekend of festivities for the AGJC that started with a Shabbat dinner in Manama on Friday evening attended by diplomats, Bahrainis, and residents of other GCC countries who flew in for the event.

“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. “It is incredibly special for us to use the Torah Jared commissioned in honor of His Majesty for the first time this weekend in the lead up to Bahrain’s first anniversary of signing the Abraham Accords which is all about creating a better life for the youth in our region – including this young man.”

The signing of the Abraham Accords a year ago between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, enable Jewish life to emerge into the public eye, after conducting itself in the shadows for years.

“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 Nmonoo. “One of our guests shared that this was her first time in Bahrain, and she came for a Shabbat dinner and a bar mitzvah.”

The AGJC is the umbrella organization for the Jewish communities of the GCC countries, which consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has the largest Jewish population in the GCC, around 3,000 people. Another 50 live in Bahrain.

“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 AGJC explains.

The AGJC oversees programming and services such as the Beth Din of Arabia, the Arabian Kosher Certification Agency, lifecycle events, and other community programs.

World Israel News staff contributed to this report.