visits to namutumba
Board members Rabbi Yafa Chase and Samantha Mandeles have both visited the Abayudaya of Namutumba: Rabbi Yafa in 2017 (with her daughter Ariel) to perform multiple community weddings and Samantha in 2021 to bring the community their first-ever kosher Torah. Scroll down to see photos from each of their visits below!
As part of board member Samantha's visit to Namutumba, she carried with her a large kosher Torah donated by the former Temple Beth El of Hammonton, NJ. Temple Beth El had to close in 2021, but their legacy lives on in Uganda through their beautiful Torah. For two weeks, Samantha lived in the village, and saw firsthand how Ezra Uganda's donors have directly improved the lives of the people—the synagogue, the granary, the solar panels, the oxen and plows, and more. Samantha wrote about her trip: "Throughout my visit, I experienced the joy and strength that Judaism gives to the community, their commitment to living Jewishly, and the eagerness of everyone to learn as much as they can about Judaism and Israel."
Rabbi Yafa's Visit
Rabbi Yafa journeyed to Uganda to perform the marriage of Namutumba's spiritual leader, Shadrach Mugoya Levi, to his bride, Naomi Namusoosa. For more on Rabbi Yafa's experience, check out this New York Times article about the wedding event!
"...The couple lived together for nearly five years, and had a son, Akiva, now 2, before deciding to have the first Jewish wedding to take place in Namutumba, an effort that displayed the vitality of the Jewish community in their multifaith Jewish, Christian and Muslim community with the rare remaining pantheist. The wedding was so big, a Ugandan radio station reported the news. ...Along with Mr. Levi and Ms. Namusoosa, Jacob Ntuuko, 58, wed Rachael Naigaga, 52; David Kalireku, 62, wed Ruth Nabaigwa, 56; Moshe Isiko, 60, wed Naume Lunyato, 50; and Mr. Kaidhiwa, 72, the man who chose Mr. Levi as his successor, wed a very pregnant Rachael Kontono, 38, during one monumental service. The ceremony was conducted in Luganda, English and Hebrew."
A VISIT TO UGANDA
In 2002, Rabbi Joseph Prouser traveled to Uganda with a delegation planned by our friends at Kulanu, an organization that supports isolated, emerging, and returning Jewish commuities around the globe.
During his trip, Rabbi Prouser performed official conversions and weddings for the Abayudaya. In 2004, Rabbi Prouser returned to Namutumba with his family, on behalf of Kulanu, to help the community celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Check out this video interview with Rabbi Prouser about his experiences with the Abayudaya. (Un-mute by mousing over the video and tapping the sound-on button.)
For more information about the Abayudaya and Kulanu’s work there, click here.