Howard County Federation Raises More Than $20K for Ugandan Jews

Rabbi Gershom Sizomu (Photo by Be’chol Lashon)

The Howard County Jewish community has raised nearly $21,000 to feed a group of malnourished Jews in Uganda — known as the Abayudaya — more than doubling the initial goal it set a month ago.

In partnership, the Howard County Board of Rabbis and the Jewish Federation of Howard County launched the campaign in mid-August after community leaders became aware of a famine crisis in East Africa. The money is enough to feed the Jewish population in Uganda for two days.

Ralph Grunewald, the Federation’s interim executive director, said in a prepared statement he is pleased with the strong show of support the Abayudaya, or “people of Judah,” have received in such trying times. The Abayudaya are approximately 2,000 in number and have been practicing Judaism in rural Uganda since the early 1900s.

Calling the Federation’s efforts a success, Grunewald said, “This emergency campaign underscores the Federation’s key role in bringing the local community together, not only in times of need, but day in and day out.”

Funds will be distributed by the Jewish Coalition for East Africa Relief — 24 Jewish groups convened by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee — and will also benefit the Abayudaya’s Christian and Muslim neighbors. The money will be used for maize flour, known as “posho,” and to ensure better agricultural practices in the region and to provide more stable food options.

Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, a leader of the Abayudaya and a Ugandan Parliament member, expressed his gratitude to the Federation for its generosity and highlighted the significance of the contributions.

In a prepared statement, he said, “I couldn’t be more grateful for the support of the Jewish community in this time of need, especially for at-risk populations, including the elderly and children.”

In addition to the efforts in Howard County, other local Jewish institutions have done their part to make assisting the Abayudaya a top priority.

A member of the community, Aaron Kintu Moses, headmaster and principal of Hadassah Primary School, Uganda’s only Jewish school, spoke at Beth Israel Congregation in Owings Mills in July.

Moses was there to help raise awareness about the challenges his school and the community at large face on a daily basis. His visit netted Hadassah Primary School about $1,400 in contributions through the sale of handmade yarmulkes, jewelry and matzah coverings by his students.

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