Yids in Uganda – my experience!
I recently went to Uganda to watch some focus groups for work. Before I left I found out that there was
a tribe of Ugandan Jews called the Abayudaya. They are found in the town of Mbale which is in the
Eastern part of Uganda near Mount Elgon (about 4 ½ hour drive from Kampala, near to where the recent
I happened to be in Mbale for Focus Groups in mid-April, and contacted Samson Shadrak – one of the
community members there to take me around the community (his grandfather was one of the founding
members of their shul). An amazing experience to see these in Jews in literally the middle-of-nowhere.
They have a shul, Jewish schools; and even a Yeshiva!
Here are some photos from my experience...
The community was on the top of Nabugoye Hill – about 10km up this gravel/dirt road. Mainly just huts and
subsistence farming on the sides of the road.
My contact, Samson with one of the Yeshiva students. The one in the blue shirt is studying in this Yeshiva (he is from
Ghana) and the one in the yellow/orange shirt is from the local community. They all were yarmulkas – that the
locals make themselves.
The main shul
Inside the main shul
Men’s seating area
Isaac with prayer books donated from the USA. Notice his
shirt saying “Welcome to Josh’s Bar Mitzvah”
The Jewish High School
‘Shopping centre’ run by the Rabbi’s wife – notice the Mezuzah below...the shop consisted of one computer for the
‘internet cafe’, some maize on sale, sweets and basics; and some kosher meat that the Rabbi slaughters.
Me with the main Rabbi –
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu. He was
ordained in Los Angeles as
conservative in 2008.
View from the top of the hill
The community is about 1000 members large. They keep kosher, shabbos, celebrate all the festivals etc.
I also bought a CD of their Shabbat songs and all the Hebrew songs are sung to African beats!