A Torah scroll commissioned by former White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and presented to Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa last year has been taken to the recently renovated House of Ten Commandments Synagogue in the capital Manama.
The synagogue is said to be the oldest in the Gulf region. It received the gift on Monday from Bahrain’s former ambassador to the US, Houda Nonoo, and Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo, head of the local Jewish community.
Last year, @jaredkushner commissioned a Torah in honor of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to be used in our synagogue in Manama. Today, we brought the Torah to its new home in the recently renovated House of Ten Commandments #Bahrain pic.twitter.com/2aHNJDNrEF
— Houda Nonoo (@hnonoo75) May 3, 2021
The kingdom is home to the only indigenous Jewish community in the Gulf, numbering just 35 people. It was once home to around 1,500 Jews with many having migrated from Iraq and some from Iran and India in the late 19th century.
Mr Nonoo told Gulf Daily News that this was the first time since 1947 that a Torah scroll has been inside the synagogue. “We finally received it and now our synagogue is fully operational, as we can conduct our weekly prayers.” The local community leader said that he and his fellow Jews in Bahrain now only need a rabbi for the Torah reading. “It is a big development for us to be able to use a Torah scroll in the synagogue once again.”
In 1947, following the UN Partition vote which paved the way for the creation of the state of Israel, a group of rioters burned the synagogue in Manama to the ground and stole the country’s only Torah scroll. It was returned to the community years later in a damaged condition. The synagogue was rebuilt in the 1980s but has never officially been reopened, with most members of the community choosing to pray in private at home.
Kushner is the son-in-law of former US President Donald Trump. He gave the Torah scroll to Al-Khalifa last September during a visit to Bahrain shortly before the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords in Washington that normalised relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. Bahrain has since appointed its first-ever envoy to Israel and its flag carrier Gulf Air is set to start direct flights to Tel Aviv next month.