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Hope rekindles among Bahrain's Jews following Israel deal announcement

ANI | Updated: Sep 14, 2020 20:48 IST

Manana [Bahrain], September 14 (ANI): With Bahrain and Israel announcing normalisation of ties, Jews in the Arab state are planning to revive the declining community- including refurbishing the sole synagogue in the capital Manana, which was burnt down in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Leader of the Jewish community in Bahrain, Ebrahim Nonoo told Al Arabiya English "the agreement changes everything." While the majority of Jewish families in Bahrain fled the country in the aftermath of 1948 war, the Nonoo family stayed back.
"We are hoping to create a functioning synagogue with a rabbi," said Ebrahim, a businessman who previously served as the first Jewish member in Bahrain's parliament.
Bahrain is home to the only indigenous Jewish community in the Gulf, which numbers about 50 to 60 people. In addition, the Jewish community in the country also includes a number of expats.
There has not been an acting rabbi in Bahrain for over 40 years.
"I have a strong feeling that the community will grow now that the normalization is in place," Ebrahim was quoted as saying in Al Arabiya English.
The hope in Jewish community rekindled after Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa officially announced a ties normalisation agreement in a trilateral phone conversation with US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While Ebrahim and his family could have left the country at any time to become citizens of Israel but they chose to stay in Bahrain.
"I really do consider myself a Bahraini. It wasn't the Bahrainis that took objection to the Jews after 1948. The backlash was mostly from a group of foreign workers in the country," said Nonoo, adding that the Bahraini leadership has always protected the Jewish minority.
The family hopes that the children of Jews to left for Israel will be able to return.
"Now the children of the Jews who left for Israel will be able to return and visit the houses where their parents used to live," said Nonoo.
The Jewish synagogue, which was burnt down after the 1948 war, was rebuilt in the 1980's by Ebrahim's father and is now being refurbished.
"For me as a Jew, it will be a very heartening thing to be a guide for Jewish visitors from Israel," he said.
This Friday will mark the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, but Nonoo said it feels like a new era.
"The Jewish community here always felt 'oh dear, our kids won't stay here' - but this changes everything," he said. (ANI)