Local Jewish Community Aids Ugandan Rabbi-to-be

Gershom Sizomu traveled to the United States from a land of dirt roads, mud huts, and a history of brutal dictatorship that clouded the rolling hills of his native Uganda in fear.

But Sizomu, 38, will be a rarity when he returns to his homeland. He will be the only ordained rabbi in Uganda and will lead a small community of African Jews known as the Abayudaya who live in a small village called Mbale.

“It’s a journey that’s a consequence of choice, we have so many choices in the country,” he said of becoming a rabbi. “You can’t take the journey blindly.”

The man on the path to the cloth met with roughly 50 members of the Federation-Jewish Communities of Western Connecticut at a social gathering at a private home on Sunday afternoon. Those who attended were some of the federation’s most generous donors and came to hear Sizomu speak of his land.

The country is recovering from the brutal dictator, Idi Amin, who took over during a military coup and is alleged to have killed an estimated 300,000 Ugandans in the 1970s. Under Amin’s dictatorship, Jews lived in fear and many converted to other religions to avoid persecution. The Abayudaya community of more than 3,000 was whittled down to only 300 during that period. Sizomu said the atmosphere of his country was filled with fear. A person who admitted to being a Jew would be executed, he said.

Rabbi Sizomu is part of the Be’chol Lashon Speakers Bureau. For information about booking speakers, contact Danielle at 415-386-2604 or Danielle@JewishResearch.org.

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