In a first, US synagogue group to visit Bahrain at king’s invitation

A New York synagogue will be the first Jewish congregation to visit an Arab country in the Persian Gulf during its upcoming mission to Bahrain.

At the invitation of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Rabbi Marc Schneier of the Hampton Synagogue on Westhampton Beach, Long Island, New York, will lead a congregational mission to Bahrain.

It will be the first visit by a Jewish group to an Arab Gulf country.

Schneier, described on his synagogue website as “a trailblazer in the field of Muslim-Jewish relations,” has maintained a relationship with the Bahraini monarch over several years. In 2011, he was the first rabbi to be received by King Hamad at the royal palace.

The congregational mission was announced during the recent Rosh Hashana services. The purpose, Schneier told The Jerusalem Post, is to “set a paradigm for what we hope and pray for this time of year during the High Holidays.”

“We pray for peace in the Middle East and cooperation between Israel and its neighboring countries,” he continued. “We are seeing changes in the Gulf and my hope is that this mission will inspire other congregations and Jewish organizations to recognize that as the children of Abraham, Muslims and Jews share a common faith and a common fate.”

King Hamad is also a groundbreaker in interfaith relations, particularly in the Arab world. He authored the Bahrain Declaration on Religious Tolerance, described by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) as a “plain-speaking attack against terrorism,” which was released earlier this month at an historic event co-sponsored SWC in Los Angeles.

“The document, the first of its kind to be written by an Arab head of state, calls for people of all faiths to show respect for, and protection of, the rights of everyone to practice their religious affiliations in dignity and peace,” SWC announced.

Approximately 30 Jews live in Bahrain. The country at present has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

By: World Israel News Staff