Community in Bahrain - World Jewish Congress

Bahrain

Bahrain, according to the 2011 census, is home to about 30 Jews. The only Jewish community in the Persian Gulf, the Bahraini Jewish community is a small, but active group, present in high offices of the state. The Bahraini Jewish community is represented by the Jewish Community of the Kingdom of Bahrain – the Bahraini affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate

Jewish Community of the Kingdom of Bahrain
Community Representative: Ebrahim David Nonoo


Community News


History

The presence of Jews in Bahrain dates back to ancient times, according to Talmudic references. In the late 19th century, Jews from Iraq, Iran, and India settled in Bahrain and became active in commerce and handicrafts. A small synagogue in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, was consecrated around this time.

Before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jewish community in Bahrain numbered at almost 600. However, in 1947, there were anti-Semitic disturbances in which one Jew was killed and several injured. With the birth of Israel in 1948, these sentiments heavily intensified: anti-Semitic riots erupted and the synagogue was burned down. Many Jews immigrated to Israel as a result.

Much of the violence – including the destruction of the local synagogue – has been attributed to Muslim foreigners who came to Bahrain in 1948. In fact, many Jewish families hid with Bahraini Muslim families until the violence diminished.

Today, the Jewish community is quite small, but celebrated as part of Bahrain’s diversity. Ebrahim David Nonoo recently served as a member of Bahrain’s forty-man Shura, or parliamentary council, from 2000 to 2008, and his cousin, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, served in the upper house of the Bahraini parliament from 2005 to 2008 and was personally appointed by King Hamid ibn Isa Al Khalifah as Ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2013 – the first Jew in the Arab world to serve as an Ambassador. Nancy Khedorui currently serves in the parliament.

Demography

The 2011 Bahraini census places the Jewish population at about 37 people out of a total population of 1,410,942.

Jewish life in Bahrain is entirely centered in Manama, the capital and largest city of Bahrain.

Community Life

Due to the small size of the Jewish community in Bahrain, communal representation is left largely in the hands of the individual members of the community. The few Jewish families that reside in the country form the Jewish Community of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and work together to ensure that the needs of the community are met, and that Jewish religious life is able to be practiced.

Religious services are conducted privately, with the individual members of the community organizing Jewish events. The community also maintains a cemetery. 

Religious and Cultural Life

The only synagogue in the country – the Bahrain Synagogue in Manama – is affiliated with the modern Orthodox stream of Judaism. There is no rabbi in Bahrain, so most spiritual observances, mainly Jewish rituals – B’nai Mitzvah, weddings, etc. – must be conducted overseas. For the most part, individual members of the community conduct religious ceremonies and services when needed.

updated

 

August 2018

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