Jewish center in Uganda dedicated to Yoni Netanyahu

Members of the Abayudaya community celebrate the inauguration of “Beit Ha’Am – Marom”. (photo credit: PR DEPARTMENT FOR DIASPORA ACTIVITY IN THE WORLD ZIONIST ORGANIZATION)

A home for Jews living in the Ugandan capital of Kampala was inaugurated this week by the World Zionist Organization and Marom Olami, a Conservative young adults movement for the preservation of Jewish and Zionist identity, and was dedicated to Israeli national hero Yoni Netanyahu, who died in the Entebbe Operation in Uganda in 1976.

The house, called “Beit Ha’Am – Marom,” will serve as a synagogue and community center for Jews living in the city, mainly Ugandan natives from the Abayudaya, a 2,000-3,000 strong community claiming to be Jewish. The center’s mission is to assist young people living in Kampala – most of them students – to maintain their Jewish life and identity, and to create a vibrant community that will also be taught about Israel, according to a press release about the inauguration event.

Dr. Iddo Netanyahu,  Yoni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother, was present at the ceremony, as well as the head of the Committee for Small Jewish Communities in the Jewish Agency, Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman, and the head of the Department for Diaspora Affairs of the WZO.

The inauguration ceremony included a performance by the Abayudaya choir, the unveiling of a plaque and the affixing of a mezuzah on the house. The Abayudaya community rabbi, Gershom Sizomu, was present as well. The ceremony was the climax of a four-day journey to the villages of the community, which also included  a special Kabbalat Shabbat.

The delegation also visited the old terminal in Entebbe, where the military operation to free the hostages, took place. Dr. Netanyahu said Kaddish and lit a memory candle in honor of Yoni.

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