The Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod to Begin Operating in the UAE

  • By Editor
  • 09 01
  • 2020

Johnny Kim (SNN, Jerusalem) September 1, 2020 -The Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Isaac Herzog, Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz and Keren Hayesod World Chairman Sam Grundwerg spoke last night with Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates Rabbi Yehuda Sarna and agreed to begin providing services to the Jewish community in the Emirates.


During the conversation, Chief Rabbi Sarna requested tools to foster Jewish communal life, including Jewish education and identity, as well as summer camps. The possibility of sending a permanent Jewish Agency emissary (shaliach) to the UAE Jewish community was also discussed. This potential shaliach would join the hundreds of Jewish Agency shlichim stationed in Jewish communities around the world. 


Chief Rabbi Sarna noted that, “After years of operating with great discretion, on the margins of the global Jewish community, we are now ready to formally ‘get on the grid.’ This partnership with The Jewish Agency brings the interconnectedness we crave.” 


Isaac Herzog, the chairman of Jewish Agency for Israel speaks with Johnny Kim


“Our wonderful conversation with Chief Rabbi Sarna took place on the day the historic Israeli-American delegation took off on an El Al plane to Abu Dhabi. A new chapter in the fascinating history of the Jewish people is being written as we begin working with the Jewish community in the Emirates,” said Herzog.


“We are delighted to start sharing our programming with this diverse Jewish community, living in the heart of the Middle East. The recent historic peace agreement enables us to take this step and I hope one day soon, we will be able to do so in additional countries in the region.” 




A special joint team from The Jewish Agency, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Federations of North America will be established in the coming days to work with the Chief Rabbi of the UAE to determine the needs of the Jewish community in the region. 


The Jewish community in the UAE totals over 1,000 members, centered in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It’s the first new Jewish community that’s being built in the Arab world in centuries and is comprised of Jews coming from all over the globe, including: Europe, North America, South Africa and the Arab world. Community members work in a variety of fields, serving as teachers, technicians, software developers, nurses and business people. 




“We are excited that after one hundred years of working together with the entire Jewish people, and working to preserve the ties between many dozens of Jewish communities and the State of Israel, now Keren Hayesod can officially work together with our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community of the United Arab Emirates,” said Sam Grundwerg, World Chairman of Keren Hayesod. 

“We are already looking forward to working together in all areas, including education, culture and community, and to deepening the special connection." 




CEO of The Jewish Agency, Amira Ahronoviz, added: “We are very moved and excited by the opportunity to help support Jewish communal life for the hundreds of Jewish families in the UAE and to strengthen their connection to Israel. This is precisely our role as the global Jewish platform and it’s amazing that we can finally extend our involvement to this community that had previously been out of our bounds.” 


Photo credit: Website of Karen Hayesod


About The Jewish Agency for Israel 

Since 1929, The Jewish Agency for Israel has been working to secure a vibrant Jewish future. It was instrumental in founding and building the State of Israel and continues to serve as the main link between the Jewish state and Jewish communities everywhere. This global partnership has enabled it to address the Jewish People’s greatest challenges in every generation. Today, the Jewish Agency connects the global Jewish family, bringing Jews to Israel, and Israel to Jews, by providing meaningful Israel engagement and facilitating Aliyah. It also strives to build a better society in Israel - and beyond - energizing young Israelis and their worldwide peers to rediscover a collective sense of Jewish purpose. The Jewish Agency continues to be the Jewish world’s first responder, prepared to address emergencies in Israel, and to rescue Jews from countries where they are at risk.


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