UAE: Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah with candle-lighting ceremony

The celebrations kicked off at Expo 2020 Dubai's Israel pavilion


Michal Michelle Divon

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Published: Tue 30 Nov 2021, 11:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Dec 2021, 10:25 PM

The eight-day Jewish celebration of Hanukkah is being held across the UAE for a second year in a row following the Abraham Accords, with hundreds attending the holiday events taking place between Sunday, November 28 and December 5.

At the centre of celebrations is a nightly community gathering where a Hanukkiah - a nine candle holder - is lit at sunset.

Jewish community members arrived to the UAE from all over the world, from countries including: Bahrain, Canada, Israel, UK, US, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and more to take part in the candle-lighting celebrations which kicked off at the Israel Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The second night of Hanukkah was marked at the Crossroads of Civilisation Museum in an event hosted together with the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities.

Ahmed Obeid Al Mansoori, the museum's founder, welcomed an international crowd, calling the occasion a true miracle - referencing the miracle of the holiday.

Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish victory over a tyrant king, the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem and a small quantity of oil found within the temple that against all odds, was able to light the Temple’s menorah for eight days.

Yael Grafy, the chief operating officer of the museum, said: "We are making history together and celebrating simultaneously Multiple Hanukkah festivities that reflect the spirit of our host the United Arab Emirates.”


The event was attended by JCC’s Rabbi Levi Duchman, JCE’s Rabbi Elie Abadie, Commissioner General of the Israel Pavilion Elazar Cohen, former Bahraini Ambassador to the US Houda Nonoo and other Jewish community members.

Meanwhile, youth NGO Sharaka held a joint UAE National Day-Hanukkah celebration with locals and expats in Dubai. Israel’s Consul General Ilan Stulman attended the event which included traditional suffganiyot donuts and holiday chants. A similar Sharaka event will be held in Israel on Wednesday for the fourth candle.

“The volume of Hanukkah events taking place in the UAE this year speaks to the tremendous growth we have seen over the past year and how it is quickly becoming the center of the Jewish world,” said Rabbi Yehuda Sarna.

The last night of Hanukkah will be celebrated at the Canadian pavilion at Expo 2020, bringing together local dignitaries, Jewish community members and visitors.

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