The Lost Jews of Uganda [analysis]

Before Israel was chosen as the Jewish homeland, Britain offered part of Uganda to Theodore Herzl’s Zionist group in 1903. This did not eventuate but somehow a resilient Jewish community still came into existence on a dusty, hilltop town in Uganda. KIM HARRISBERG spent a Shabbat with the Abayudaya community.

“No, you see that little scratch there? That is not good enough. It must be absolutely smooth before we can slaughter with this.”

I am sitting alongside Rabbi Gershom as he analyses the sharpness of a blade being presented to him by the shochet (slaughterer) of the community.

According to the laws of kashrut, the blade being used to slaughter the animal needs to be impeccably sharpened and scratch-free. I have learnt about these customs before, being raised in a Jewish, South African community for most of my life. But I am far from home now as I sit with Rabbi Gershom in the remote town of Mbale in the east of Uganda. He is the leader of a community with a very interesting story.

There are around 14 million Jews in the world, with around 1,500 living in and around Mbale. They are called ‘Abayudaya’ which is Lugandan for…

Source : Daily Maverick

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