The Abayudaya (Abayudaya is a luganda word for people of Judah) community is comprised of over 2,000 members spread among eight villages in the area surrounding Mbale, in eastern Uganda, approximately five hours from the capital, Kampala. The eight villages of Abayudaya in Uganda, Nabugoye, Nasenyi, Namanyonyi, Namutumba I, Namutumba II, Nalubembe, Apaac and Buseta, are recognized by the Masorti/conservative movement around the world.
The Abayudaya live their daily lives committed to traditional Judaism, observing ritual slaughter and kashrut, celebrating Shabbat and holidays, reading Torah on Mondays and Thursdays and engaging in text study on a regular basis. Although religious observance has not been easy in the face of political developments over the years in Uganda, a strong leadership has persevered and the results can be seen and felt today.
Two schools, the Hadassah Primary School and the Semei Kakungulu High School (known as S.K.) were established by the community so that the youth can learn Hebrew and Judaism in addition to following the regular Uganda government curriculum. It also enables the children to celebrate Shabbat, as regular schools in Uganda are in session on Saturdays. The schools are open to all, with Christian and Muslim neighbors studying together with the Jewish youth. There are dorms for those who live in villages further away.
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is the Chief Rabbi of the Abayudaya communities in Uganda and Kenya. Rabbi Gershom was ordained in 2008, after completing his five years of rabbinic studies at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.
The Abayudaya community owes its origin to Semei Kakungulu, a Muganda military agent for the British missionaries who decided to practice Judaism upon his study and meditation of the Old Testament. He then adopted the observance of all Moses' commandments, including circumcision of himself and sons, and suggested this observance for all of his followers, and declared that his community was Jewish in 1919. The Abayudaya Jews follow Jewish practices and consider themselves Jews despite the absence of Israelite ancestry.
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu
Kumi Road, Namakwekwe
plot 20A, Uganda
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