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Welcoming in a new era

UAE’s chief rabbi blows shofar in Dubai in new video

Yehuda Sarna’s clip is a fitting gesture at the end of a historic week that saw Abu Dhabi formalize relations with Israel, bolster ties to its own Jewish community

Yehuda Sarna, Chief Rabbi of the United Arab Emirates, blows the shofar in Dubai, September 18, 2020 (video screenshot)
Yehuda Sarna, Chief Rabbi of the United Arab Emirates, blows the shofar in Dubai, September 18, 2020 (video screenshot)

A new video released Friday shows Yehuda Sarna, Chief Rabbi of the United Arab Emirates, blowing the shofar to welcome in the Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, against the backdrop of the sparkling waters and towering skyscrapers of Dubai.

It seems a fitting gesture, at the end of a week that saw the UAE officially open up ties with Israel, at the same time strengthening its bonds to its small Jewish community.

The past few weeks have seen the community, believed to number some 2,000-3,000 people, come into the spotlight as its leaders hailed the newfound friendship between the countries and Abu Dhabi made use of the opportunity to tout the coexistence credentials it is eager to put on display.

Sarna, as well as Ross Kriel, president of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, were among several community representatives who flew to Washington to witness the historic signing of agreements — known as the Abraham Accords — establishing ties between Israel and the UAE, as well as Bahrain.

“We’ve been praying for this day for years, and today, those prayers have been answered. This moment will forever redefine life in the Middle East,” Kriel said at the ceremony. “It is an epoch-making event that heralds a time of peace.”

Sarna said “What distinguishes Abraham –– in the Torah, the Bible and the Quran –– is not that he was the first to make a covenant with God, but that he was the first to establish peace agreements with others,” Sarna said. “Bearing his name, the Abraham Accords honor that legacy of peace by opening a new chapter of coexistence.”

Earlier this month, as an Israeli delegation made the first official visit to Abu Dhabi, members of the team held a prayer service at their hotel, with the minyan completed by members of the community,

A Jewish minyan organized at the hotel of the Israeli delegation to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, September 1, 2020. (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)
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