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UAE’s House of Abraham widens space for Gulf’s Jewish community

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ABU DHABI – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) witnessed the inauguration of the Abraham Family House last Thursday in Abu Dhabi, a project that, according to Emirati officials, aims to celebrate the country’s multicultural and religious diversity.

Multi-faith places of worship, including churches, mosques and synagogues, will officially welcome visitors next Wednesday.

The Abrahamic Family House was born out of a Human Fraternity Conference organized by the Abu Dhabi-based Muslim Presbyterian Church in February 2019. The meeting, attended by two of the world’s most prominent religious leaders – Pope Francis and Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb – centered on enhancing dialogue and coexistence while also combating intellectual extremism .

A historic Human Fraternity Document for Peace and Coexistence was signed during the meeting. The concept of coexistence was the main driving force behind the establishment of the Abraham Family Home.

With the Abraham Accords in 2020 normalizing relations between Israel and the UAE, as well as other Arab states, including Bahrain, there has been a significant increase in the Jewish population in the Gulf states. Between 350 and 500 Jewish residents call the UAE home by 2022.

Regarding the opening of the Abraham Family Residence project, UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan tweeted on February 16, “The UAE is home to people from diverse communities working together to create new possibilities proud history of [Abrahamic Family House] With our inauguration in Abu Dhabi, we remain committed to harnessing the power of mutual respect, understanding and diversity to achieve shared progress. “

International civilians responded to the completion of the project. Sir Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth of Hebrew Church, attended the inauguration of the project and installed the first mezuzah at the entrance of the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue, the first purpose-built synagogue in Arabia nearly The world for a century.

only one synagogue Found in the Gulf, especially Bahrain. A Jewish community organization launched in Dubai in 2021 to serve the Jewish community in the Gulf region.

Prominent regional diplomatic leaders such as former Bahraini ambassador to the United States Hudanonu also attended the opening of the project. “The Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have been at the forefront of coexistence in the GCC. As a member of Bahrain’s indigenous Jewish community, I appreciate the impact of creating a society based on the values ​​of coexistence,” Nono, herself Jewish, said in said in the keynote speech.

The inauguration also saw the presence of Rabbi Levi Duchman, who lives in Abu Dhabi, former Irish Chief Rabbi David Rosen, who is now the AJC’s Director of International Interfaith Affairs, and the Reverend Johnny Moore, a two-time AJC president. International Religious Freedom Commissioner.

Living in Abu Dhabi since 2014, Rabbi Levi Duchman has been involved extensively in Jewish activities throughout the UAE, including establishing the country’s first kosher nursery and first kosher supermarket.

“When I arrived eight years ago, I always felt the need to build Jewish infrastructure’, Duhman previously told Al-Monitor about the establishment of the country’s first kosher supermarket. Live the Jewish life in the UAE.”

Reza Aslan, author and professor of religion at UC Riverside, was interviewed by Al-Monitor in Dubai as one of the speakers at the Emirates Aviation Literature Festival 2023 (February 1-6) , recounted his impressions of the religious diversity in the UAE. “The UAE is making the necessary investments not just to celebrate diversity, but to actually promote it and use it as a teaching tool for the younger generations,” he said.

“For me, interfaith dialogue is important. I would like to see interfaith action bring these communities together, using their common ground as a force for good, not only in the region but around the world within,” Aslan responded to religious diversity in the Middle East when asked what the completion of the Abraham Family House project would mean for the future.

The Abraham Family Residence has been described as one of the most influential architectural projects due to be completed in 2023, according to CNN Style.

The 7,700-square-meter (82,882-square-foot) house of worship includes Three cubic volumes of equal size sit on a podium. According to the website of Adjaye Associates, which designed the project, the garden sits at the center of the structure, between the cube structures, as a public space where the three communities can safely enjoy peace.

While the Abraham Family House will not open to the public until March 1, the creation of the first purpose-built synagogue in the Arab world in more than a century demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to religious diversity. Its synagogue is unlike any other in the Bay Area due to its proximity to other places of worship. The Gulf state is unquestionably a Muslim-majority country, although ancient relics linked to religious minorities have resurfaced. In 2010, a Christian monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi, opened to the public in 2010, according to the UAE-based The Nation. In addition, Hebrew tombstones found in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah from around 1507 to 1650 indicate a Jewish presence in the region well before the conclusion of the Agreements of Abraham.

The UAE also plans to incorporate more religious approaches into its society, starting with hindu templescheduled to open in Abu Dhabi in February 2024.



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