The Star Tribune of 3/24/13 carried a story about a unique Jewish community in Uganda, East Africa. The Abayudaya of Uganda began in 1919 when one African man studying the Bible under the direction of early missionaries decided that the Torah was the true word of God and became the leader of a growing indigenous community of Jews. Under the leadership of Semei Kakungulu, the Jewish community grew to 3,000 souls. But then they suffered persecution under Idi Amin who banned the Jewish religion. The community migrated to the more remote district of Mbale near the Kenyan border where they have been slowly rebuilding. Today the Jewish community lives in several villages and supports 6 temples, under the leadership of Rabbi Gershom. Now numbering about 1,500, they run a school to teach the children Hebrew and observe the same Shabbat rituals and Holy Days as Jews around the world.
Sources and Further Info:
- Curt Brown, “In Uganda, Faith Endures,” Star Tribune, March 24, 2013, pp. G1 & G6
- YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYAjOt46qkI
- Blog recounting the visit of delegation from by delegation from Mt. Zion Temple of St. Paul to the Abayudaya community at http://mzuganda.blogspot.com
- A whole series of articles about the Abayudaya can be found at http://bechollashon.org/population/africa.php. Click on Uganda on the map to see links to various articles.