Abayudaya Scholarship Fund

Join Rabbi Jeffrey Summit and Tufts student Hannah San Sebastian in giving the gift of a college education to an African Jewish student! Raising our goal of $21,000 will enable 38 Ugandan Jewish college students to continue their education as the 2020 term begin. Photo above: Samson Wamani, who was supported by this fund, is the first member of the Abayudaya Jewish community of Uganda to become a physician. (photo by Richard Sobol)

Over the past years, the Abayudaya Scholarship Fund has provided hope to this incredible African Jewish community as these subsistence farmers – women and men -- attend college and become doctors, nurses, computer technicians, teachers, engineers, tour operators and more. This GoFundMe campaign asks your help in order to continue this important work. There are now 38 Jewish Ugandan students from the community in college: a bright light at a time when little good news seems to come over the internet or email. 
It would be incredibly helpful if you would contribute – and share this campaign to encourage others to contribute --to this scholarship fund. To support these 38 students, we need to raise $50,000 a year. We have raised $29,000 so far and must raise an additional $21,000 before the end of December for these committed Jewish students to be able to continue their studies. This support not only transforms young Jewish lives: it is transforming the Abayudaya community in Uganda. While other NGOs are doing wonderful work with the Abayudaya, this scholarship fund is the only project dedicated to supporting college education for the community.

A Brief Introduction to the Abayudaya Jewish community of Uganda

The Abayudaya Jewish Community of Uganda are a community of approximately 2,000 practicing Jews living in villages surrounding Mbale in Eastern Uganda. Members follow Jewish ritual, observe the laws of the Shabbat, celebrate Jewish holidays, keep kosher, and pray in Hebrew. The Abayudaya self-converted to Judaism in 1919. Moved by their belief in the truth of the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, the Abayudaya developed their Jewish practice and liturgy in the process of separating themselves from Christian missionary activity and British political rule. Since the community’s initial self-conversion and through a difficult period of persecution during Idi Amin’s rule, the Abayudaya have been committed to following mainstream Jewish practice. Approximately half of the community went through halakhic (Jewish legal) conversions in 2002 by a visiting rabbinic court (beit din) from Judaism’s Conservative Movement. 

Abayudaya men praying in the Moses synagogue on Nabogoya Hill, Uganda (photo by Richard Sobol) 

Link to Abayudaya Performing Lekah Dodi: Click here 

If you are not able to donate at this time we would greatly appreciate if you could share this story!

For more information on the history and administration of the scholarship fund, and for testimony from the Abayudaya community about the fund’s impact, Click here 

Thank you,

Rabbi Jeffrey Summit and Hannah San Sebastian
Tufts University

Donations (22)

  • Chanie Backman
    • $18 
    • 4 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Hannah San Sebastian
Medford, MA
Jeffrey Summit

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