Growing up Jewish in Uganda

Sunday, November 29

USA (10:30 am Pacific Time Zone / 1:30 pm Eastern Time Zone)

UK 6:30 pm / France 7:30 pm / Israel 8:30 pm

The talk will last approximately 90 minutes


About this talk

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.

About Shoshana

Shoshana Nambi grew up in Uganda's Abayudaya Jewish community. She dreamt of being a rabbi, but she chose to study Business Administration at Kampala International University as she grew up. She also trained as an HIV community educator and counselor and subsequently worked with RAIN-UGANDA, a grass-roots HIV organization for more than three years. She had the opportunity to work at Camp Coleman, a Reform summer camp in GA. Shoshana worked together with Coleman friends to start a program that saw thirteen youth from Uganda work in Jewish summer camps across America. Through the guidance and encouragement she received from Camp Coleman, she connected to Hebrew Union College as a rabbinical student. Before moving to NYC, Shoshana spent two years studying in Israel and is now a third-year Rabbinical school on her way to becoming the first female rabbi of her community in Uganda. For now, she serves as a Student Rabbi for North Fork Reform Synagogue, New York.

Choose your contribution amount

10% of the profits will be donated to the Abayudaya College Scholarship, which has raised and administered funds to send more than 40 students to colleges and universities in Uganda since 2001.

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