Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Profile: Gershom Sizomu

Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is a research fellow at the Institute for Jewish & Community Research and the spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. Rabbi Sizomu earned a Bachelor of Arts in education from Islamic University, Uganda. As a fellow of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, Gershom Sizomu attends the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism, Los Angeles. After Gershom completes the 5-year rabbinic program in 2008, he will start a yeshiva in Uganda to train African rabbis.

Abayudaya is a local term that means "the people of Judah." The Jews of Uganda trace their roots to Semei Kakungulu, a missionary for the British, who favored the Hebrew bible and spread its teachings at the turn of the 20th century. Today, approximately 750 members of the Abayudaya community live in Eastern Uganda near Mbale, the third largest city in Uganda. In 2002, at the community´s request, a Conservative Bet Din supervised the conversion of most of the Abayudaya community members.

Rabbi Sizomu plays guitar and writes music for the community. He and his wife Tziporah perform Ugandan Jewish music and lecture about Jews in Uganda. They have three children, Igaal, Dafnah, and Navah.

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