September 19, 2019

A Minyan in Bahrain

“MANAMA, BAHRAIN — In the center of the city, just off a busy street of shops, in a small unmarked synagogue, a group of 15 Jews gathered Wednesday for a morning minyan (prayer quorum). At the end they joined hands and danced around the bima, singing “Am Yisrael Chai” (The People of Israel Live).

This was not your usual minyan: Not everyday is “Am Yisrael Chai” sung in a Persian Gulf synagogue.

Among those participating was Jason Greenblatt, Washington’s Mideast mediator and one of the architects of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop taking place here. Aryeh Lightsone, a top aid to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, gave a brief “dvar torah” after the services. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the fonder and dean of the SImon Wiesenthal Center, led the services.

Houdie Nonoo, Bahrain’s former ambassador to the US and a member of the tiny Bahrani Jewish community, was also on hand — she opened the shul — and said she was “moved.”

“This is historic,” she said. “It is the first time in my lifetime that I’ve been in this synagogue with a morning minyan, and more than a minyan””

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