The small Muslim monarchy of Bahrain hosted a ceremony to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah, and the resulting video of kaffiyeh-wearing sheikhs dancing with Orthodox Jews to Hasidic music has been going viral on Facebook.
On Saturday night, the kingdom, ruled by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, held a candle-lighting ceremony in which Jews, businesspeople and other Bahraini people took part.
Bahrain, a group of islands in Persian gulf with a population of 1.4 million, is the only Arab gulf state that has a synagogue. The country had a Jewish population of some 1,500 Jews in 1948. However, after the declaration of the State of Israel many left, and almost all those who remained followed suit after 1967’s Six Day War. Today there are less than 50 Jews in the country.
The kingdom is also unique in that its ambassador to the US from 2008-2010 was Houda Nonoo, a Jewish woman who had formerly served in the nation’s parliament.