There have been Jews in Uganda for about 100 years. The Abayudaya community was founded by a tribal chief who converted himself and many of his followers to Judaism in 1919. One hundred years later, there are nine synagogues in different Ugandan villages, three Jewish schools, and the community continues to grow.
I will share through pictures the history of my community, as well as my own family story and journey to rabbinical school. I will also focus on how the Abayudaya, mostly subsistence farmers, have maintained their Jewish identity among their Muslim and Christian neighbors, the diverse cultures and languages within the Jewish community, and the intersection of Jewish and Ugandan traditions.
I will talk about some of the challenges that the community faced(s) to maintain its Jewish identity, education, and women’s evolving role. I will also comment on my experiences living outside of Uganda, in Israel and America, as a Ugandan Jew.