(JTA) — The Gulf Jewish Communities Association, an organization that works to foster Jewish life in the Gulf states, will launch a fundraising campaign on Sunday to restore and maintain Bahrain’s Jewish cemetery, the only Jewish cemetery operating in the Gulf region.
Part of the initiative, which will be launched on Tu B’Shvatthe Jewish New Year of Trees, will include the planting of trees in the cemetery.
“[W]We are planting trees in the Bahrain Jewish Cemetery which is akin to bringing back to life those who have lived in the beautiful community of Bahrain for centuries and made Bahrain their resting place for eternity,” said Rabbi Eli Abadie, head of the AGJC, said of the project.
Bahrain’s Jewish community dates back approximately 140 years to the late 1800s, when a group of Iraqi Jews and a smaller number of Jews from Iran arrived in search of economic opportunity. Many were poor and uneducated, but found jobs, and eventually succeeded, in the garment industry. The cemetery in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, was established at the height of the community in the 1920s and 1930s, when there were between 800 and 1,500 Jews in Bahrain.
In the decades that followed, the community dwindled to about 50 people, as many young Jews moved away. But after the UAE signed the Abraham Accords with Israel and Bahrain normalized relations with Israel soon after, leaders of Jewish communities in the Gulf worked to revive Jewish life in the region, especially in Bahrain, which also houses the only functioning Jewish cemetery. as a synagogue.
In October, the community celebrated its first Jewish wedding in more than 50 years, and the AGJC launched a dating service for Jews from the Gulf States.