By Peter Arnold
In response to Uganda’s current famine crisis, the Jewish Federation of Howard County and the Howard County Board of Rabbis have launched an emergency campaign to raise funds for the Abayudaya, the African nation’s community of approximately 2,000 Jews.
So far, the campaign has raised more than $10,000. Funds will be distributed through the Jewish Coalition of East Africa Relief, a coalition of 24 Jewish groups convened by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Rabbi Craig H. Axler, spiritual leader of Temple Isaiah in the Howard County community of Fulton, is a friend of Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, leader of the Abayudaya, who live in three villages in eastern Uganda and have practiced Judaism since 1919.
(Abayudaya means “People of Judah” in the Luganda language, and hundreds of community members have been converted to Judaism according to Halachah, or Jewish law, by the Conservative movement.)
“Gershom and I studied together at Hebrew Union College [the Reform movement’s rabbinical school],” said Rabbi Axler. “We became fast friends and exchanged stories and music….When I heard about the suffering of the Abayudaya community, the first image I had was of Rabbi Gershom doing everything he could not only to feed his community but also to ensure that surrounding Christian and Muslim neighbors are not suffering.”
Click here to read more about the humanitarian effort in Baltimore’s backyard, courtesy of our friends over at Jmore.