Mazal Tov! Mabruk! Largest Jewish Wedding in UAE Cements Ties on Abraham Accords Anniversary
UAE Chief Rabbi Levi Duchman and his wife Lea with guests at their wedding at the Hilton Yas Island on Sept. 14, 2022 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. (Courtesy)

Mazal Tov! Mabruk! Largest Jewish Wedding in UAE Cements Ties on Abraham Accords Anniversary

Guests tell The Media Line of an ‘incredible’ experience as UAE Chief Chabad Rabbi Levi Duchman weds Lea Hadad in Abu Dhabi, witnessed by 1,500 quests ‘from all religions’

A lavish wedding in the heart of the Persian Gulf with members of the Emirati royal family in attendance would normally generate little more than passing interest, but when the groom and his bride are ultra-Orthodox Jews and the 1,500-strong guest list is also packed with chief rabbis, it is truly worthy of attention.

Guests sporting yarmulkes and ghutras stood shoulder to shoulder as UAE Chief Chabad Rabbi Levi Duchman, 29, married Lea Hadad, 27, at the Hilton Hotel on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening, in the largest Jewish wedding ever to be held in the Emirates. The union came as Israel and the UAE were celebrating the second anniversary of the signing of the landmark Abraham Accords that normalized ties between them.

Guests celebrate at the wedding of UAE Chief Chabad Rabbi Levi Duchman and Lea Hadad at the Hilton Yas Island on Sept. 14, 2022 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

“What’s unique and special is that our wedding has brought together many people who have never been to a part of the Arab world. To have them here at the wedding is not only about the event but is an important symbol in the journey of supporting the growth of the Jewish community. It’s something that hasn’t happened before, so there has been no precedent for this,” the groom said, according to the Khaleej Times.

Chief rabbis from Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Singapore were in attendance for the celebration, as was their counterpart from Belgium Menahem Hadad – who also happens to be the father of the bride.

Lea Duchman dances with guests at her wedding to Rabbi Levi Duchman at the Hilton Yas Island on Sept. 14, 2022 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. (Courtesy)

“It was the most phenomenal event I’ve ever attended, including my daughter’s wedding and my son’s wedding,” guest Alan Kay, a London-born director of a real estate company who has lived in Abu Dhabi for more than a decade, told The Media Line.

“It was just amazing. Fifteen hundred people at least and an amazing atmosphere. Very emotional, very moving, I nearly welled up a few times. The music, the prayers, the whole thing, the whole atmosphere, and at the same time very relaxed. It was formal but not formal,” he said.

Guests celebrate at the wedding of UAE Chief Chabad Rabbi Levi Duchman and Lea Hadad at the Hilton Yas Island on Sept. 14, 2022 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. (Courtesy)

“The highlight was when they broke the glass,” Kay said, referring to a tradition at the close of a Jewish wedding ceremony when a glass is smashed to signify the destruction of the temples.

“The other highlight was the chief rabbi of Morocco narrating the wedding in English, and he had a voice that kind of came from God, a very deep solid voice. It was very emotional listening to him,” he said.

“It was incredible,” fellow guest Avital Shneller, a business development manager for an Emirati travel company, told The Media Line.

“Seeing all the leaders from all religions gathering together in Abu Dhabi after everything that Rabbi Levi did for the Jewish people in the UAE was the highlight,” she said.

UAE Chief Chabad Rabbi Levi Duchman, center, talks with guests at his wedding to Lea Hadad at the Hilton Yas Island on Sept. 14, 2022 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. (Courtesy)

Shneller also singled out the explanation of the ceremony by the Moroccan chief rabbi as one of the memorable events of the night, as well as a blessing delivered in Arabic under the chuppah (wedding canopy) by Emirati businessman Mohamad Alabbar.

Emirati businessman Mohamed Alabbar recites blessing in Arabic under the chuppah at the wedding of UAE Chief Chabad Rabbi Levi Duchman and Lea Hadad at the Hilton Yas Island on Sept. 14, 2022 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. (Courtesy)

Born in Brooklyn, Rabbi Duchman has been living in the UAE for the past eight years, building strong Jewish communities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. His wife is no stranger to her new role, as the daughter and granddaughter of Chabad rabbis.

“To see a young couple getting married in true Jewish tradition in the UAE is truly amazing,” Feige Duchman, the mother of the groom, told UAE newspaper The National.

“They are starting a new life, so it is a celebration for them to build their family and to continue to build the Jewish community in Abu Dhabi,” she said. “Abu Dhabi is Levi’s place now; it is where he is growing the community. We always hoped he would get married here, but we did not ever think it would be possible until quite recently. It is an amazing celebration.”

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