Jews observed the holiday of Hanukkah (or Chanukah) in public for the first time in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Thursday, following the peace deal between Israel and the UAE under the auspices of U.S. President Donald Trump.
A “lavish” Hanukkah party was thrown at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, on Thursday evening.
— Ami Magazine (@Ami_Magazine) December 11, 2020
Hanukkah is a post-Biblical festival that celebrates the victory of the Jews in ancient Israel over the occupying forces of the Syrian-Greek empire in the second century B.C. Religious Jews fought a rebellion against Hellenization and reclaimed the Holy Temple. Upon reconquering it, they found only enough oil to last for one night, but it miraculously burned for eight.
Traditionally, Jews observe the festival by lighting a menorah, or chanukiah, with eight branches, adding one light for each night. (The ninth light is called the shamash, and serves to ignite the other lights, but is not considered one of them.)
— Majid Al Sarrah 🇦🇪 מאג'ד אלסראח (@DrAlsarrah) December 10, 2020
Lighting The First Candle of Hanukkah in burj khalifa Dubai , In the background you can hear the hit of Elkana Marziano & Waleed AlJasim “AHALAN bik” Great honor!!!
Video Credit-kfir Levi pic.twitter.com/C1NluXFzZk
— masami-israel & uae music production (@UaeMasami) December 10, 2020
Hanukkah is the only Jewish holiday that is meant to be observed as publicly as possible. Families are encouraged to light their menorahs near their doorways or windows, for example. But that was not possible in Dubai until very recently.
The Abraham Accords, signed by Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and the U.S. in September, established peace and normalized relations between the Jewish state and its Arab partners. Similar agreements with Sudan and with Morocco soon followed.
Since then, Jews have been traveling to Dubai — to the extent possible under coronavirus restrictions — to enjoy the famed city’s attractions, and to host a variety of communal gatherings, including several boisterous Jewish weddings:
🇦🇪✡️ — HISTORIC: The first official Jewish wedding taking place now at the Park Hyatt resort in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. pic.twitter.com/VyMnQ9Dybu
— Belaaz (@TheBelaaz) November 30, 2020
The menorah at the Burj Khalifa was erected by the local Chabad rabbi, part of a campaign of public Chanukah celebrations launched by the late Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Chabad reports an “exploding” number of Israelis in Dubai. Rabbi Levi Duchman has been in the country since 2015, helping to lay the groundwork for what has followed.