Watch: Yankelevich in conversation with the Jews of the United Arab Emirates


Following the announcement of the historic peace agreement, Diaspora Minister Omar Yankelevich held a multi-participant Zoom meeting with members of the United Arab Emirates’ Jewish community yesterday (Friday). Participants included community president Solly Wolf, community rabbi, rabbi Levi Duchman, and dozens of community members.

In the exciting conversation in which the parties expressed their joy at the historic agreement, it was agreed to start cooperation between the community and the Ministry of Diaspora, in which the Minister and her staff will present plans and ideas for Jewish, educational and community activities, and later the community. The members of the community also requested that the minister visit them soon, in order to get to know the community and its various needs.

During the meeting, the Minister held a professional dialogue on educational and community issues and answered questions from community members, including the couple Rudy and Anna Liss Benhion and their two children, who moved from France to the UAE several years ago because they feared the situation in France. According to them, in the UAE they feel more secure living as Jews with openness and tolerance on the part of the authorities and citizens.

The minister then sent a letter to all 1,500 members of the Jewish community in the United States in which she wrote: “We have a historic opportunity to build a bridge between the two countries. The virtual meeting we held is only the first step in the future ties I hope to build between us.”

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“I was very excited to hear about the activities and dedication of community president Solly Wolf and community rabbi Rabbi Levy, for the preservation of Jewish identity, about the Torah study operating in the field, and about the personal treatment that Jews receive from the community’s staff,” Yankelevich said. “For us, it is a duty and a privilege to cooperate with them in the variety of programs of the Ministry of Diaspora to strengthen and preserve Jewish identity.

“The political agreement is great news for Israel, but also for the local Jewish community there, which has for many years been isolated and detached from the State of Israel and the global Jewish activities of the Ministry of Diaspora,” she added. “Together we can leverage our capabilities in the Ministry of Diaspora and involve the Jews from the United Arab Emirates in the ministry’s many projects, as part of our international activities to strengthen Jewish identity and ties with the State of Israel.”

There are currently about 1,500 Jews living in the Muslim country. The Jewish community is careful to maintain the Jewish tradition and the connection between its members, and operates a Jewish school with over 40 children, synagogues and a kosher slaughterhouse.

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