This woman is studying to be the first female rabbi from Uganda

Shoshanna Nambi wants to teach her rabbinical school colleagues about Ugandan Jewish traditions. (Courtesy of Nambi)

Growing up in Uganda, Shoshanna Nambi was active in her small Jewish community. She taught songs and the Torah portion to younger children and was a member of her community’s youth group. Learning Hebrew also seemed to come easily. So it seemed obvious to her that she would consider becoming a rabbi.

But even though her community is egalitarian and affiliated with the Conservative movement, some were not aware that a woman could be a rabbi.

“One kid said to me that she would want me to be a rabbi, but I’m a woman,” Nambi, 29, recalled in a phone interview from Mbale, a rural town in Uganda’s east.

That incident was one of the reasons she decided to attend rabbinical school, Nambi said.

“I just feel like it’s something that we should have in the community,” she told JTA. “We should have different leaders and people should know that women can be rabbis, and men can be rabbis.”

Nambi believes the community is now “open to having a woman rabbi.”

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