Who are the Abayudaya?
The Abayudaya, or People of Judah in Luganda, adopted Judaism in 1919 after the community’s chief, Semei Kakungulu, recognized that there was more to the bible than what British missionaries were teaching his people. Kakungulu’s insistence that his community eat only Kosher foods, circumcise boys at 8-days, and observe the sabbath on Saturdays earned the community the ire of the British authorities.
Though the community contracted to only a few hundred Jews during persecution from the Idi Amin regime, today, the Abayudaya number approximately 2,000 spread over 14 villages stretching from Mbale, Uganda into western Kenya. Though the community has incredible spirit, most Abayudaya live in poverty and endure educational, nutritional, and healthcare insecurities.
The community is led by Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, who in 2008 became the first native born African rabbi ever ordained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.
The FJMC was introduced to the Abayudaya in 2015 when Seaboard Region sponsored Aaron Moses, z”l, the founding director of the Hadassah Primary School and president of the Abayudaya Men’s Club, to attend the Miami Beach convention.
Since the 2015 convention and through the devastating COVID lockdown, the FJMC has stepped up to support the Abayudaya community through several fundraising efforts and by purchasing kippot made in Mbale. The community’s largest schools, the Semei Kakungulu High School and the Hadassah Primary School are tools the community uses to build towards a sustainable future, and they need our support to purchase supplies, provide scholarships to the children most in need, and to pay appropriate wages to their teachers.
It is incumbent upon all Jews to care for each other. Participation in the following fundraising opportunities will show your commitment to Am Yisrael, the people of Israel.
We invite you to join us in supporting our active FJMC Abayudaya fundraising effort
Kippot Mitzvah Project – We seek b’nai mitzvah students to support this initiative as part of their experience. This mitzvah project proposal outlines how a student in Philadelphia was able to raise over $5,000 for the Abayudaya schools. With a little work and focus, your child could be responsible for raising thousands of dollars for scholarships and supplies for Jewish children their age in Uganda. Please share this proposal with your rabbis, educational directors, rising b’nai mitzvah students, and even friends outside of the Masorti movement. See the presentation on the proposal here.
Donations to the fundraiser can be made using this link http://abayudaya.seaboardfjmc.us/