The Conservative movement will build an adult yeshiva for the Abayudaya, a community of Jewish converts in Uganda.
The $15,000 gift, announced Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif., at the national convention of United Synagogue Youth, the youth arm of the Conservative movement, was presented to Gershom Sizomu, the first member of the Abayudaya community to enter rabbinical school. A research fellow at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, Sizomu will receive his ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles in May.
The 800 members of the Abayudaya, who had been living as Jews for years, were formally converted to Judaism in 2002 by a visiting delegation of Conservative rabbis.
Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, said the gift of the yeshiva sustains the youth movement’s support of the Abayudaya Jews begun last year with a donation for a Jewish library.
The library will be housed in the new yeshiva, which is expected to be completed by summer.
Four or five students will begin studying next fall, Epstein said. Other students are expected to follow, some from “lost” African Jewish communities elsewhere in Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and southern Africa.