PRESS RELEASE: Historic Day for Black African Jews


Contact: Diane Tobin
V. 415.386.2604

San Francisco, July 10, 2008—The Pan-African Jewish Alliance (PAJA) is holding its first multi-national meeting on July 11, 2008 with participants from Jewish communities in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and the United States. The representatives from African Jewish communities are gathering in Uganda to celebrate with Rabbi Gershom Sizomu on the occasion of his installation as community rabbi by Conservative rabbis from the United States.

“It is an honor to host the first meeting of the Pan-African Jewish Alliance,” said Rabbi Sizomu, the leader of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. “We believe that PAJA will help Jewish communities thrive throughout Africa.”

PAJA seeks to unite historic and emerging African and African Diaspora Jewish communities around the world. PAJA also seeks to strengthen connections between Jews of Africa and Jews of all racial and ethnic origins. The organization’s mandate includes overcoming the divisions that inhibit global Jewish unity.

The Pan-African Jewish Alliance is an initiative organized by Be’chol Lashon. “We are partners with Jewish communities in Africa and around the globe,” said Diane Tobin, director of Be’chol Lashon. “We believe that the potential for the growth of Jewish communities is significant in Uganda, Nigeria, and countries that many may not think about when it comes to the Jewish people.”

Representatives of PAJA are engaged in a number of activities in their home communities. Dr. Rabson Wuriga is writing about the oral traditions of the Lemba Jews of South Africa Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Botswana. Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is creating a new rabbinical school in Uganda to serve Jews throughout Africa. Others are establishing synagogues, schools, and other projects.

PAJA spans the Atlantic to tie black African Jews to the growing number of black Jews in the United States. Rabbi Capers Funnye, associate director of Be’chol Lashon and coordinator of PAJA, frequently travels to Africa to help build connections among Jewish communities throughout the continent. “We are bringing together Jewish leaders of African heritage for the first time,” said Rabbi Funnye. “It is a blessing to be part of this historic work.”