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Rabbis forge special bond in Islamic world

Istanbul-based Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States connects Jewish communities in some 20 predominantly Muslim countries and regions across Africa, Asia and Europe, in an effort to enable them to sustain their faith and thrive in their homelands.
Rabbi Mendy Chitrik (L).

A rabbi in Iran asks for advice about a religious divorce in his community; a rabbi in Egypt inquires about the well-being of the Jewish community in Tunis after a disturbance outside their synagogue; three rabbis from Kazakhstan, Turkey and Egypt send a selfie from their meeting at a conference on kosher certification. “The messages can be quite random,” Rabbi Mendy Chitrik of Istanbul remarked as he scrolled through the chat group of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States (ARIS) recently. “But the rabbis finally have a platform where they can consult each other.”

Around 100,000 Jews live in Muslim countries around the world, according to the organization, many of them in isolated pockets and with little access to resources. Until a couple of years ago, some communities barely knew of each other. It was only at the inaugural summit of ARIS last year, for example, that the Chief Rabbi of Iran was introduced to the rabbi of a Jewish community in neighboring Azerbaijan.

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