Lacking status in Israel, Jews in Uganda see new synagogue as ‘our Jerusalem’

Illustrative: As part of a B’chol Lashon initiative, in anticipation of the construction of a new synagogue in Nabagoye, Uganda, the women and children there were given the honor of transferring the Torahs from the old synagogue to a temporary home. (Courtesy of Be’chol Lashon via JTA)

(JTA) — When there was no more space in the synagogue in Nabagoye, Uganda, congregants would go outside, gathering under trees. But the branches weren’t enough to shield them from the rain during the East African country’s wet seasons, which last about half the year.

A new 7,000-square-foot synagogue center set to open Friday will solve that problem — yet there is also something larger at stake.

For the Jews of Uganda, most of whom converted under Conservative rabbis and thus are not recognized as Jewish by Israel’s Orthodox Chief Rabbinate, the community center serves as a way to cement their presence in the country.

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