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Herzog meets with small Bahrain Jewish community in Manama

President, on first-ever official visit, receives gifts from local Jews, whose presence in island kingdom dates back some 140 years

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

President Isaac Herzog (right) meets with members of the Bahrain Jewish community in Manama on December 4, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog (right) meets with members of the Bahrain Jewish community in Manama on December 4, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

MANAMA — President Isaac Herzog met with members of Bahrain’s Jewish community in Manama on Sunday, receiving a prayer book with an Arabic translation, a book about the history of the indigenous Jewish community, and a copy of the 1931 permit to open the local synagogue.

Among the attendees were community head Ebrahim Nonoo, former ambassador to the US Houda Nonoo, and Bahrain Shura Council member Nancy Khedouri.

The kingdom, according to a 2011 census cited by the World Jewish Congress, is home to some 30 Jews. Its Jewish community dates back some 140 years, to the late 1800s, and it hosts the only functioning Jewish cemetery in the Persian Gulf region.

The president was in the island kingdom as part of the first-ever official visit of an Israeli president in Bahrain. Then-prime minister Naftali Bennett visited in February, becoming the first Israeli premier to do so.

Earlier in the day, Herzog was given a welcome ceremony including an honor guard and was received by the king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

The president and the king “discussed the importance that their countries attach to their bilateral relationship and the expansion of Israeli-Bahraini cooperation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a press release. The president also gave the king a silver mezuzah as a gift, meant to symbolize well-wishes and goodwill.

The president’s visit was preceded by protests in Bahrain, with dozens of demonstrators affiliated with the Bahraini opposition chanting, “Death to Israel” and carrying signs calling Herzog a “criminal” and saying he is “not wanted [in Bahrain].”

On Monday, Herzog headed for the United Arab Emirates for the second leg of the trip.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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