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UAE Jewish Community Opens New Chapter in Interfaith Dialogue with Addition of Arabic-Speaking Senior Rabbi

“Renaissance Rabbi” Dr. Elie Abadie Aims to Promote Jewish-Muslim Coexistence in New JCE Leadership Post

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, October 19, 2020 / -- In the latest sign of revolutionary progress for Jews in the Middle East, Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie –– once a Jewish refugee who left the region as a young boy –– will return to the region as the new Senior Rabbi in Residence of the Jewish Council of the Emirates (JCE). Working in tandem with JCE Chief Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, Rabbi Abadie will be entrusted with providing on-the-ground spiritual leadership to the growing Jewish community residing in the UAE.
“The Jewish community of the Emirates deserves nothing less than a true ‘renaissance rabbi’: A medical doctor, scholar, pastor, and visionary leader,” said Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates.

“Rabbi Abadi’s fluency in Arabic –– as well as six other languages –– positions him as a unique resource to help facilitate meaningful interfaith dialogue in the Middle East. His voice will be amplified not only in the UAE, but throughout the region and around the world,” Sarna said. “I can think of no better candidate to fill this role, and I look forward to working together to both serve the UAE’s burgeoning Jewish community and cultivate a more peaceful, inclusive, and harmonious region as a whole.”

Rabbi Abadie is a fluent Arabic speaker who was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and left with his family for Mexico, eventually settling in the United States. A descendant of a long and distinguished rabbinical lineage dating back to 15th century Spain and France, Rabbi Abadie is the founder and rabbi of the Manhattan East Synagogue. He also serves as a college professor of Sephardic Judaism, history, philosophy and comparative traditional law.
Rabbi Abadie will assume his post on November 1, 2020, arriving amid a period of unprecedented growth and dynamism for Jews in the UAE, the first such community to emerge on the Arabian Peninsula in almost two centuries.

JCE President Ross Kriel added: “The appointment of Rabbi Abadie shows how the JCE is building an institution for a confident, mature and thriving Jewish community in the UAE. With the Rabbi’s expertise and leadership, we look forward to continued expansion and taking our place as a valued stakeholder in Emirati society.”

As Senior Rabbi, Rabbi Abadie will address the growing spiritual needs of a resident community that has expanded significantly in recent years, and especially since the historic Abraham Accords between the UAE and Israel in September.

The spirit of tolerance and embrace that has engulfed the UAE is also leading to growing desire for partnership and engagement with the Muslim world among the Jewish community, as represented by the JCE, and many other local organizations and community groups. Rabbi Abadie will take a lead role in these efforts, and in demonstrating the richness of Muslim-Jewish cooperation to the broader region.

Sarna, as Chief Rabbi of the UAE, will continue in his responsibilities of connecting the JCE to global Jewry and building bridges of cooperation with Emirati authorities and international stakeholders. Rabbi Abadie’s presence in Dubai will complement Rabbi Sarna’s leadership with constant, on-site community support and spiritual guidance.

“I feel like I’m coming home to my roots; to the region where I was born, to the language that I first spoke, and to the beautiful traditions and customs with which I grew up,” said Rabbi Abadie, whose other positions include vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, co-president of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, and board member of the American Sephardi Federation and World Sephardi Education Center.

Rabbi Abadie, who in addition to being a rabbi maintains a private practice in gastroenterology, added: “I look forward to meeting, teaching, and praying with all of the congregants and members of the Jewish community at large. I will be honored to share and celebrate in all of your semahot and rejoice in all of our holidays together. Together we will grow the seeds of the UAE Jewish community.”

Shea Agnew
Qorvis Communications
+1 8147204477
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