Thursday, December 27, 2007

Uganda Beit Midrash

Gershom Sizomu, Abuyadaya Uganda Jewish CommunityI met Gershom Sizomu, the leader of the Ugandan Jewish community called the Abuyadaya, when he visited New Jersey several years ago. Now Gershom is about to be ordained as a Conservative rabbi at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.

At the International Convention of United Synagogue Youth (USY) in Anaheim this week, it was announced that the Conservative movement will build an adult yeshiva for the Abayudaya. The 800 members of the Abayudaya, who had been living as Jews for years, were formally converted to Judaism in 2002 by a visiting delegation of Conservative rabbis.

The JTA reports that "the $15,000 gift was presented to Gershom Sizomu, the first member of the Abayudaya community to enter rabbinical school." Gershom is a research fellow at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco.

Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, said the gift of the yeshiva sustains the youth movement's support of the Abayudaya Jews begun last year with a donation for a Jewish library.The library will be housed in the new yeshiva, which is expected to be completed by summer. Four or five students will begin studying next fall, Epstein said. Other students are expected to follow, some from "lost" African Jewish communities elsewhere in Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and southern Africa.

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