Historic first Jewish circumcision ceremony held in Abu Dhabi
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Historic first Jewish circumcision ceremony held in Abu Dhabi

Chabad rabbi from Berlin performs procedure in United Arab Emirates capital for family that had previously lived in Germany

Tools for a circumcision procedure (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
Tools for a circumcision procedure (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

In a historic first, a brit, or circumcision ceremony, for a Jewish infant took place Sunday in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The ceremony was overseen by a Chabad rabbi, Yehuda Teichtal, from Berlin.

The family of the baby, who had lived in Berlin for a while, were not identified in media reports.

A small Jewish community lives in the UAE, but its presence only became public this year as the governments of the various emirates, especially Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are trying to show themselves as hubs of international commerce and religious tolerance.

Abu Dhabi is currently constructing the first official synagogue in the emirate, slated to be completed by 2022.

The new synagogue is to be part of an interfaith compound that will also house a mosque and church.

The Abrahamic Family House, to be built in Abu Dhabi, UAE (courtesy of The Higher Committee for Human Fraternity)

An interfaith council to oversee projects advancing tolerance was formed as a result of the declaration, and named the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. The Abrahamic Family House is its first initiative.

The UAE is already home to a synagogue, in Dubai, formed in 2008. Though it receives quiet support from the Emirati authorities, its members have largely kept a low profile. The new state-sanctioned synagogue would mark a significant step forward for public worship of Judaism in the Gulf state.

In May, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, the chaplain at New York University, became the first chief rabbi of the Jewish community of the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE has also grown closer to Israel in recent years amid a shared threat from Iran. Senior Israeli ministers have openly visited the country and in 2018, Israel’s national anthem was played at a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi when its team member won a gold medal.

JTA contributed to this report.

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