Join us on a valley-wide community journey to visit the Abayudaya Jewish community in Eastern Uganda, including a musical Shabbat and a visit to the local villages. Our second week will include some relaxation in neighboring Kenya with spectacular wildlife experiences, with Shabbat in Nairobi. The 2-week trip will include a visit with Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, and activities in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. Sponsored by Temple Aliyah and Shomrei Torah.
The Abayudaya community in Mbale is very special. Much of their connection to god is through music. The joy and devotion to Jewish life reverberates throughout every service, community sings; and music permeates even free time in the village. It’s an incredible way to connect with visitors from around the world.
We are here in the middle of Uganda, in the middle of Africa. And being a small Jewish community, we always feel good receiving people from all over the world — to share with us the joy of Judaism; to come and identify with us so we don’t feel isolated.
Going to Uganda is such a life changing experience because it forces us to reconsider entirely what Judaism is all about. As American Jews, we get stuck thinking that Jewish spiritual observance looks a certain way. When you arrive in Uganda, it is an incredible inspiration to see folks from another country who have embraced our shared tradition, but made it entirely their own.
The Abayudaya have endured adversity in the practice of their Judaism, surviving the persecutions of Idi Amin. They have warm, productive relationships with their Christian and Moslem neighbors. At a time when little positive news comes out of Africa, this is a story of hope and faith.
The Abayudaya community of Ugandan Jews live spread throughout nine villages in Eastern Uganda, just outside of the town of Mbale. Roughly 1,000 members live in their respective villages, and are generally traditional in their observance of Judaism, including keeping kosher in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. Rabbi Gershom Sizomu (ordained at American Jewish University in 2008) has served as its spiritual leader for well over a decade, and in 2016 was elected to the Ugandan Parliament. Uganda is now a peaceful, stable country in East Africa, and Western tourists are warmly welcomed.
Our journeys encourage you to find spiritual inspiration and purpose to your life. Don’t just board the same old cruise ship you’ve taken before. Travel with meaning. You will return with fresh eyes, new friends around the world, and new perspectives.
Take something back with you that is more impactful than souvenirs. Expand your knowledge and challenge your mind.
Relax knowing that your hotel accommodations will be first-class, the food and beverage will be familiar and delicious; and all amenities you enjoy at home will be at your fingertips.