“Sukkat Shalom: From Uganda to U.S. and Back” in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles follows Rabbi Gershom Sizomu returns to lead the followers of Judaism in Uganda after being ordained in Los Angeles. (Of notable mention this time of year, Sizomu’s grandfather was arrested for building a sukkah in Uganda at a time when it was illegal to openly practice Judaism.)
From the handheld showerheads that stream cold water to the songs transliterated into Luganda and the white mosquito netting that helps prevent malaria, writer Amy Klein paints a vivid picture of the Jewish lives of the Conservative converts in Uganda.
While I disagree with Rabbi Sizomu’s statement that he chose to study at a Conservative seminary because “Conservative theology is the middle ground between two extremes,” I did find the article thoughtprovoking. While facing economic issues that might seem unimaginable to Western eyes living much more comfortable (Jewish) lives, this Ugandan community has gone to great lengths to bring Judaism to their far corner of the world.
This story of African converts is a mixed bag that will surprise and shock, trouble some and inspire and amaze others.