Learn about a small Ashkenazi Jewish community that settled in the African country of Uganda after World War II. With no rabbi or Jewish infrastructure, this community of twenty-three families formed a cohesive group that celebrated all Jewish festivals together and upheld their Jewish identity. There is also a small but vibrant indigenous Jewish Ugandan community that survived persecution under the regime of Idi Amin and that survives to this day. Meet representatives of both communities.
Janice Masur was born in Eritrea, spent her childhood in Uganda, and attended university in New Zealand—all countries where Jewry was barely visible on the Jewish diaspora spectrum. She is the author of Shalom Uganda: A Jewish Community on the Equator. Today, Masur feels strongly rooted in her Jewish community in Vancouver, Canada, where she lives with her husband. The author, a retired physiotherapist, has also held a photographic exhibit in 2019 entitled “Shalom Uganda” and has spoken in London, England, Toronto and Seattle, Windhoek, Namibia and Vancouver. She delights in sharing the historical stories of her Jewish community.
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is the rabbi, spiritual leader and Rosh Yeshivah of the Abayudaya Congregation in Uganda. The first Jew from Sub-Saharan Africa to be ordained at a conventional rabbinic college, he obtained a bachelors degree in education from the Islamic University of Uganda in 1999 and was ordained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles in 2008. In 2016 Rabbi Sizomu became the first Jew in Uganda to be elected to a five-year term as a Member of Parliament where he represented the people of Bungokho County. He is also a musician and wrote most of the songs in the Grammy-nominated album Music from the Jewish People of Uganda.
Robert Jacobvitz, who will moderate the program, serves on the Sousa Mendes Foundation Board and chairs its Advisory Council. For ten years he directed the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater East Bay, and it was in this capacity in the 1980’s that he began championing the cause of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. In 2005 he received the Aristides de Sousa Mendes Humanitarian Medal from the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. He wrote a seminal article on Aristides de Sousa Mendes that can be read at this link.x
Registration will close on Thursday, August 12 at 10 PM US Eastern Time. Instructions and links will be emailed to you on Friday, August 13 and again on the morning of the program.