The first Hanucah candle to be kindled in a Bahrain synagogue was lit this week in a show of interfaith harmony. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain, who has 36 Jewish subjects and even appointed a Jewish ambassador to the US, is keen to nail his colours to the western mast. The French Imam Hassan Chalghoumi is a well-known moderate who has visited Israel. Arutz Sheva report: (with thanks: Flor)
Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa held a meeting at his royal
palace in the capital city of Manama this week, welcoming
representatives of the various religions.
Representing the Jewish people was Rabbi Moshe Levin, director of the
Conference of European Rabbis who was invited by Al Khalifa and was
received with an exceptionally warm welcome.
The rabbi lit the Hanukkah candles at Manama's synagogue on Monday
night for the second night of the holiday, together with the roughly 50
Jewish congregants. Many Muslim neighbors came to witness the ceremony,
as did representatives of the royal house and the parliament.
Rabbi Levin serves as a close adviser to the chief rabbi of France,
and also serves as rabbi of the French National Gendarmerie. He arrived
in Bahrain together with the French Imam Hassan Chalghoumi, who also
took part in the candle lighting.
"The call to war against terror needs to come from the leaders of all
the religions as one," said the King of Bahrain while welcoming his
"Here in Bahrain members of all the religions live with no fear, and
we will continue to allow Jews to live peacefully and quietly,
maintaining their lifestyle, their customs and the commandments of their
religion without any fear."
Rabbi Levin was seated next to the king as an open sign of
recognition during the special interfaith meeting that was held, in
which the various representatives called for a war against terrorism and
for true peace between the nations. Only a few dozen Jews live in the
The rabbi told the king that the Jewish people are now celebrating
the holiday of Hanukkah, which seeks to increase light in the world, and
explained that in Judaism there is a concept: "a little light drives
off a lot of darkness."
"Bahrain under your rule is a little light in a dark world of radical fundamentalism," Rabbi Levin praised the king.
Attorney Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, former Bahrain Ambassador to the
US and a member of the Jewish community, expressed the strong emotions
of the small community at the rabbi's visit and candle lighting.
"Since 1948 a Hanukkah candle hasn't been lit in the synagogue in Bahrain," she said.
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