Refugee who left Middle East as a boy returns to UAE as senior rabbi

Rabbi Elie Abadie, who will take up his post on November 1, is fluent in Arabic

Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US and Rabbi Dr Elie Abadie. Jewish Council of the Emirates
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A Jewish refugee who left the Middle East as a young boy will return to the UAE as a senior official to serve his community.

Rabbi Dr Elie Abadie will assume the role of a senior rabbi in residence of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, which represents the Jewish community in the Emirates.

He will take up his post on November 1, 2020.

“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.

He will work at the council with chief rabbi, Yehuda Sarna, and will provide spiritual guidance to the Jewish community in the UAE.

“The Jewish community of the Emirates deserves nothing less than a true ‘renaissance rabbi’, [who is] a doctor, scholar, pastor and visionary leader,” said Rabbi Sarna.

“I can think of no better candidate to fill this role and I look forward to working together to serve the UAE’s Jewish community and cultivate a more peaceful, inclusive and harmonious region.”

Rabbi Abadie is fluent in Arabic and six other languages. He was born in Beirut and his family left Lebanon in 1971 when he was only 6. He moved to the US after eight years.

He belongs to a rabbinical lineage that dates back to the 15th century and has roots in Spain and France.

He is also the founder and rabbi of the Manhattan East Synagogue. He is a university professor of Sephardic Judaism, history, philosophy and comparative traditional law.

“The appointment of Rabbi Abadie shows how the JCE is building as an institution and how the Jewish community is thriving in the UAE,” said Ross Kriel, president of JCE.

Rabbi Sarna will continue his work of connecting the council with Jews around the world.

He will also help increase co-operation with UAE authorities and international stakeholders.