History was made when a bris milah took place late last week in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal, Shliach in Berlin, Germany arranged the bris for the baby’s parents, who used to live in Berlin and are still in close contact with Rav Teichtal. The mohel was Rav Shlomo Stein of Beitar Illit.
“I was very moved to perform one of the most important and well-known mitzvos in Yahadus in an Arab country, an experience that not everyone is zocheh to,” Rav Stein told Kan News. “I’m very happy that the opportunity came my way.”
Following the bris, Rav Teichtal met with the German ambassador in Abu Dhabi, Peter Fischer, on issues related to the Jewish community that is developing in Abu Dhabi. Rav Teichtal also spoke with a senior UAE official.
A Ynet report said that the Jewish community in Abu Dhabi has been developing along with the UAE’s efforts to prove its tolerance for religious and cultural freedom. UAE news outlets reported in September that the construction of the first official shul in the UAE will begin next year and will be completed by 2022. The synagogue will be part of a multi-religious complex called “The Abraham Family House,” which will also include a mosque and a church. The UAE decided to build the complex in February, after Pope Francis’ groundbreaking visit to the UAE.
However, according to the Ynet report, visitors to the UAE report that the officially condoned “tolerance” is very superficial and the Muslim government stifles any opposition and is guilty of violating human rights for imprisoning political activists.
Although the shul will be the first to be officially built by UAE authorities, there is already a small Jewish community in Dubai which established a small shul and officially inaugurated it about nine months ago, the Ynet report added. The community is estimated to number about 150 families or up to 2,000 – 3000 people, with most residents originally stemming from the US, Europe and South Africa. There are also many Jews who visit the city for business reasons.