Leaders of Ugandan synagogue named for Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life pay a visit


(JTA) — The leaders of a new synagogue in Uganda named for Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue visited the Pennsylvania congregation.

Wanani Esau and Yonatan Katz Lukato, the president and founder, respectively, of the synagogue in the capital city Kampala, spoke to Tree of Life members at the nearby Rodef Shalom Congregation on Monday, the Post-Gazette reported. The congregation has been meeting there since a gunman killed 11 worshippers at Shabbat services in October.

“It’s a dream come true,” Lukato said, according to the Post-Gazette. “I’ll take the message from here back home and tell my congregants about the good people I met here.”

In the wake of the attack, the Kampala synagogue contacted the Tree of Life congregation and asked to name the new congregation in tribute.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Pittsburgh said the request received a “unanimous and enthusiastic” response from his board, the newspaper reported. He said his congregation plans to send prayer books and other religious items to its namesake, and one day hopes to bring a Torah scroll.

He gave the Ugandan men kippahs with the “Stronger than hate” slogan printed on them.

Esau and Lukato, members of the Abayudaya Jewish community, traveled to Pittsburgh from the Poconos, where they are working at Camp Ramah for the summer, according to the report.

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