Shlomo Karhi, Israel’s Minister of Communications, participated in a morning prayer service in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The service included a Torah scroll dedicated to King Salman bin Abdulaziz, symbolizing the growing ties between the two nations.
Promoting Diplomacy and Faith
Three Jewish individuals, not part of Karhi’s delegation, joined the service in Riyadh, where a quorum of at least ten men gathered for this special occasion. The unique ritual, held in Karhi’s hotel, included participants holding an etrog and clutching palm, myrtle, and willow branches, a significant tradition for the Sukkot holiday.
A small Torah scroll, provided by a “local Jew,” played a central role in the ceremony. It was wrapped in a felt cover adorned with stitching in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, reading “The Jewish Congregation, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Additionally, it included a dedication in Hebrew to King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, and their ministers and advisers.
A Historic Step Towards Normalization
Karhi, an Orthodox Jew, arrived in Riyadh to lead an Israeli delegation to the Universal Postal Union’s 2023 Extraordinary Congress. This visit followed Haim Katz’s recent journey to Saudi Arabia, making him the first Israeli minister to visit the nation.
These diplomatic missions come as Israel and Saudi Arabia move closer to a historic normalization deal mediated by the United States. The potential agreement marks a significant advancement in Israel’s standing in the Middle East.
Karhi expressed his sentiments, saying, “Just as the windows in the house of Daniel were opened facing Jerusalem, so too in Riyadh, we were able to pray with windows open facing Jerusalem.”
The 14-member delegation, led by Karhi and Knesset Economy Committee chairman David Bitan, includes representatives from various ministries, focusing on communication, postal services, and foreign affairs.
Building Bridges to Peace
Karhi is scheduled to deliver a speech at the conference, emphasizing “progress and a bridge to peace.” He will also hold meetings with key figures, including US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Michael Ratney and Turkey’s communications minister.
While Saudi Arabia does not have an official local Jewish community, it is known to host several Jewish businesspeople. These diplomatic missions serve as significant steps towards peace and cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As Karhi noted, “Everything starts with small steps, so this is the beginning, and we’ll see in the future how things develop for the benefit of the State of Israel and peace in the Middle East.”
The world watches closely as these diplomatic efforts continue, hoping for a brighter and more peaceful future in the region.