Visit the Abayudaya – the Jews of Uganda in their Communities
The Abayudaya with their Health Center and their Economic Development that help beyond the Jewish Community have made great progress.
Uganda was the place the UK Government offered for a Jewish Temporary refuge in 1903 to Theodore Herzl. In the end, it was turned down. However, an indigenous Jewish Group arose in Eastern Uganda in 1919 – others may know for the spectacular Entebbe hostage rescue in 1976 that deeply embarrassed Uganda and Idi Amin in particular. Few Ugandans know about the Abayudaya – the Jews of Uganda-meaning the “People of Judah”).
Around Mbale in Eastern Uganda, their reputation goes far and wide. They are well known for making a difference not only in the Abayudaya Community but beyond improving lives of Muslims and Christians alike through Healthcare and sound Business Practices and the Coffee Cooperative.
They are not recognized by the State of Israel, however, the Conservative Jewish Movement and its congregations have supported them for years in substantial ways including Religious Training and Education.
Abayudaya – the Jews of Uganda is a group of Jewish believers that was brought to Judaism by their leader, Semei Kakangulu and are Jews by Choice. Who in 1919 he left Christianity and felt Judaism was the true religion. They have been Jewish in practice and name since 1919. Semei Kakangulu also received valuable input from a Jewish settler to Uganda called Yusufu
They have been persecuted because they have called themselves Jewish. In the Early days they were called Christ -Killers, robbed, beaten, killed, held at gunpoint over the years, even after 1986.
Idi Amin declared that it was illegal to be a Jew in Uganda by placing a prohibition on Judaism, many of the Abuyaday converted to Christianity or Islam, a remnant of the Abayudaya defied Idi Amin, even though a death sentence hung over their heads.
Since the downfall of Idi Amin, especially when President Yoweri Museveni and freedom of religion was declared freeing the Abayudaya from state persecution. Case in point is that the present leader Rabbi Gershom Sizomu of the Jewish Community was just elected to parliament, running under the FDC opposition party flag – representing all the people of his district where the Muslim Community is the majority, Christians, and the small Jewish remnant of less than 2000. It might help Ugandans to discover that there is a practicing Jewish Community in their midst.
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu wanted a deeper understanding of Judaism and they reached out to the worldwide Jewish Community from which they had received books, some monetary support in the past dating back to the 1960s before independence. Conservative Rabbis began to come to community to help them and oversee conversion or affirmation rites to Judaism.
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu attended the five-year Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. Now an ordained rabbi, he returned to Uganda to bring the Ugandan community into the mainstream of Jewish life, and open a Yeshiva School in order to train teachers and rabbis to serve Jewish communities throughout Africa.
Abayudaya – Community Projects:
The Abayudaya – the Jews of Uganda – have continuously embarked on projects that will not only bring change to the Abayudaya but to the community at large such as the Delicious Peace (Mirembe Kawomera) Coffee Cooperative in Uganda.
The Abayudaya – the Jews of Uganda saw this joint effort as a way to encourage farmers of the region to work together instead of fighting over property borders.
Delicious Peace Coffee can be bought online through the California-based Thanksgiving Coffee Company.
There is Tobin Health Center with lab and other modern facilities making a difference that came from Jewish Doctors and donors that wanted to make a difference in lives of the Abayudaya and also the State of the Art Dental Clinic rivaling most any other facility in Uganda, including in Kampala.
The Abayudaya Guest House is located the Abayudaya Nabugoye Village. Here with American Donations a basic, comfortable Guest House with flush-toilets is available for Visitors to the Jewish Communities in Uganda. You are staying in a small Village.
Visitors are welcome here, especially those of the Jewish Faith who can also spend a few days volunteering in the community, observe and take part in Jewish life in the heart of Africa.
The surrounding areas are beautiful, see some of the best coffee in Uganda grown here. Sipi Falls and Mount Elgon are nearby, and the Abayudya Community can easily be tied into a visit there.
Those of Jewish of Faith can enjoy Shabbat in Uganda and even stay with the Abayudaya at their guesthouse at a most reasonable Price
If you like to visit the Abayudaya Community near Mount Elgon – let us know and we will arrange it.