First Jewish wedding in Bahrain in 52 years

Monumental wedding (Houda Nonoo's Twitter)

Monumental wedding (Houda Nonoo’s Twitter)

By Habib Toumi

BAHRAIN: For the first time in more than half a century, a Jewish couple was married in Bahrain.

The groom was the son of Houda Nonoo, Bahrain’s former ambassador to the United States, first Jewish ambassador from an Arab country and the first woman Bahraini ambassador to the US.

“Yesterday was historic as we celebrated the first Jewish wedding in Bahrain in 52 years!” Houda posted on her Twitter account.

“While I know that every mother thinks their child’s wedding is monumental, this one truly was! it’s very hard to find adequate words to describe how much it means for it to be my son.”

Houda posted a picture of the couple, in their 20s, staring at the sea from the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

The event was made possible with help from the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC), the people-to-people network of Jewish communities from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The event was also the first strictly kosher wedding in the Kingdom’s history and was arranged by the Orthodox Union, the world’s largest kosher certification agency.

The weekend included two additional ceremonies, a Shabbat Chatan and a Henna ceremony that is customary in Sephardic Jewish communities.

“This wedding was an important moment for our family, the community here in Bahrain, and more broadly, for the Jewish community in the region,” AGJC President Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo, a close relative of Houda, was quoted as saying.

“The atmosphere was euphoric as we sat around the Chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) which symbolizes the new home being built by the couple, it was also symbolic of the opportunity to further grow Jewish life in the region.”

Bahrain is home to a community of around 50 Jews, mainly from families that migrated from Iraq to Bahrain and thrived in the business sector.

The community was represented in the upper chamber of the bicameral parliament by Ebrahim Nonoo. In 2005, he was replaced by Houda Nonoo, a businesswoman who manages Gulf Computers Services and who had made history by becoming the first non-Muslim woman to head a human rights society and the first Jewish woman Member of Parliament in Bahrain.

Houda again made history in 2008 when she became the first Jewish ambassador from an Arab country appointed to the US.

The Jewish community in Bahrain is today represented by Nancy Khadhori in the 40-seat Shura Council (upper chamber)

The community began to settle in Bahrain in the early 1900s and most of its members were traders from Iraq, Iran and India looking for a peaceful place.

Despite the anti-Israel protests on the creation of Israel in the Arab world, no Jewish business in Bahrain has ever been vandalised or destroyed and no shop sign was ever taken down or marred.

The Jewish cemetery in the capital Manama, well kept for over 100 years, is next to the Christian cemetery, and across the street from a Muslim graveyard.

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