World Zionist Organization Sending Permanent Emissaries to UAE Jewish Community for First Time

Pioneer couple will provide education about Judaism and Israel to the country's 1,000-strong Jewish community

Marcy Oster
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A woman walks past two Jewish men holding a Torah scroll in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 31, 2020.
A woman walks past two Jewish men holding a Torah scroll in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 31, 2020.Credit: Nir Elias,AP
Marcy Oster

The World Zionist Organization will send permanent emissaries to the Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates for the first time.

The announcement comes a day after the return of Israeli and American delegations from Dubai, where officials continued to prepare for the normalization agreement between Israel and the Emirates.

A young married couple, Yaacov and Zolty Eisenstein, will be the pioneer emissaries, WZO said in a statement issued Wednesday. They will establish and run a Jewish kindergarten, and teach about Jewish heritage and Israel. They also will establish an ulpan for learning Hebrew and organize community events around the Jewish festivals.

In recent months, WZO has been in touch with the Jewish community in Dubai and begun to prepare shluchim, or emissaries.

“The historic decision made by Prime Minister Netanyahu to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates has boosted significantly this process,” the statement said.

It said the subject had been discussed during meetings held by the Israeli delegation to the UAE headed by Meir Ben Shabbat, who heads Israel’s National Security Council.

The emissaries are part of the “Ben Ami” program of the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora of the WZO, which has 36 emissaries operating in 23 countries with small and dispersed Jewish communities.

On Monday, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, an Israeli humanitarian group, announced that they would begin providing services to the UAE Jewish community of over 1,000.