A Sukkah Grows in Uganda

Rabbi Gershom Sizomu has returned to his Abudaya Jewish tribe after five years of studies abroad, ready to help his community fluorish.

After five years of rabbinical studies in Los Angeles and Israel, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu has returned to the Abudaya Jewish tribe of Uganda with full spirits and his eyes on the future of his community.

In May 2008, Sizomu completed his studies at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles (four in Los Angeles and one in Israel), Sizomu was ordained, then returned home with his family.

Since his return, he has been made chief rabbi of Uganda, completed 250 conversions, opened a yeshiva in Nabugoye Hill, fed nearby villages suffering from starvation and welcomed hundreds of Jewish guests from around the world in a modern guesthouse (with electricity and running water) that was funded by American Jews.

The Abayudaya ("People of Judah" in Luganda, the local language)- some 1,100 Jews in about eight communities - live mostly outside Mbale, a city some five hours east of Entebbe airport.

These Ugandans have identified as Jews since 1919, when military leader Semei Kakungulu decided the Old Testament was true, and, when told that is what Jews practice, he reportedly said, "Then we will be Jewish!" He then circumcised himself and his sons and started a Jewish community.

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