Unprecedented Israeli-Saudi Relations: Jewish Prayer Service in Riyadh’s Capital

2023-10-03 12:42:37

Jerusalem (CNN) – Israelis, including Communications Minister Shlomo Karei, held a Jewish prayer service, including reading from a Torah scroll and celebrating Sukkot, in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Karei posted on social media Tuesday.

Karei, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said: “Here in Riyadh, we had the honor of praying with open windows toward Jerusalem.”

He added through his account on the X platform (formerly Twitter): “Time for joy,” with a post that included emojis of the Israeli and Saudi flags.

This unprecedented event comes at a time when Saudi and Israeli leaders are speaking openly about normalization between their countries, which have never established formal diplomatic relations.

Karei posted pictures of the Torah reading and a group of men wearing prayer shawls and carrying willow, palm, myrtle and etrog branches, in a traditional Sukkot celebration.

The cover of the Torah included a dedication in Hebrew to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and their ministers and advisors.

By law, Islam is the only religion that can be practiced openly in Saudi Arabia.

Karei’s visit comes a week after Tourism Minister Haim Katz made the first public visit by an Israeli government minister to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Both Karrai and Kats were in the Kingdom to attend international conferences – Karrai to attend a Universal Postal Union event, and Kats to attend a World Tourism Organization conference.

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