UAE Rabbi Gets Married in Abu Dhabi; Reportedly Largest Jewish Event in Country’s History
A total of 1,500 guests from around the world attended the wedding of Rabbi to the United Arab Emirates Levi Duchman on Wednesday in what is reportedly one of the largest Jewish events in the Arabian Gulf in recent history.
The Brooklyn-born rabbi, 29, married Lea Hadad, 27, from Brussels, Belgium, at the Hilton Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Their wedding guests included prominent rabbis, dignitaries, Emirati royals, and members of the local Jewish community.
Hadad, who is of Moroccan heritage, is the daughter of Brussels Chief Rabbi Menachem Hadad. Her grandfather set up the Chabad community in Milan, Italy. The couple will live in Abu Dhabi and together continue Rabbi Duchman’s efforts to develop the UAE’s Jewish community.
“As the child of Chabad emissaries, I grew up in an open home,” she said. “People would come at all times for a meal or just for support, and I plan to do the same in Abu Dhabi.” The newlywed, who said she plans on learning Arabic, added, “I’m excited to live in the UAE. I look forward to supporting new families coming in and expanding our educational and social programs for those already there.”
The wedding coincided with the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. The Hebrew date of the ceremony was also the same as the birthdate of the Baal Shemtov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, and the birthdate of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
Since 2014, Rabbi Duchman has helped build the infrastructure of Jewish life in the UAE by establishing Jewish communities, institutions, schools and synagogues across Abu Dhabi and Dubai, including a mikvah and the government-licensed kosher agency. He brought other rabbis to the UAE to join him in leading the community and created a rabbinical training program for rabbinical interns. He also heads the Jewish Community Center of UAE in Dubai and serves as the rabbi of the Beit Tefilah Synagogue.