One man’s journey from Montreal day school to Chief Rabbi in the UAE

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, meets Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community in the UAE. (Image courtesy Amen the Film)

As the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna plays a unique role. He isn’t preaching much from the pulpit. Instead, he’s more of a diplomat, building bridges with leaders in the United Arab Emirates and managing the country’s sudden booming interest in Judaism.

After the Abraham Accords established peace between the UAE and Israel in 2020, Rabbi Sarna, who was born in Montreal and took over the volunteer position in the Arab state in 2019, emerged as a prominent figure. He’s been involved in the country’s Jewish community for more than a decade, visiting multiple times a year to help with a New York University campus in Abu Dhabi.

Rabbi Sarna joins today to discuss his work and why so many Western Jews are finding a warm welcome in the unlikely Muslim nation.

What we talked about:


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