Rabbi Gershom Sizomu


Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is a Be'chol Lashon Rabbinic Fellow and the spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. The Abayudaya Jewish community was founded in 1919 by Semei Kakungulu, a local leader who was to be a missionary for the British. However, Kakungulu favored the old testament and following his lead, the community began practicing Judaism and became known as the Abayudaya or "people of Judah." Rabbi Sizomu is the current leader of the 100-year old Abayudaya community of almost 2,000 Jews living in rural villages in Eastern Uganda. He is the grandson of community elder "Rabbi" Samson and lives near the Moses Synagogue in the village of Nabagogye which he and others from the community's early 1980s "Kibbutz movement" built with their own hands. Their goal has been to gather what was left of the Abayudaya community back together after the devastating reign of Idi Amin Dada ended in 1979.

As a visionary leader, Sizomu’s dream was to attend a rabbinic seminary to better understand ancient and modern egalitarian Judaism and bring the Ugandan community intomainstream Jewish life. Rabbi Sizomu was awarded a Be’chol Lashon Fellowship in 2003 to attend the five-year Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. He returned to Uganda in 2008 as the first native-born black rabbi in Sub-Saharan Africa and opened a Yeshiva to train African teachers and rabbis to serve their ancient and emerging Jewish communities.

Rabbi Sizomu and the Abayudaya Executive Council requested Be’chol Lashon help with long-range planning and financial resource development. Feasibility research led to the design of Abayudaya Community Health & Development Plan. The research confirmed that improving healthcare is a critical need for the Abayudaya and their neighbors. Diseases such as dysentery, amoebas, infections, tuberculosis, and malaria flourish, and HIV/AIDS are prevalent. The community suffers high morbidity and mortality rates. Be’chol Lashon works with the community to improved healthcare and develop sustainable projects. Thisincludes the drilling wells, distributing mosquito nets, and the building of a Health Center and Guest House. The Tobin Health Center, run by the Abayudaya, provides medical services to the Jewish community as well as their Christian and Muslim neighbors, fostering good will and cooperation among the communities, combating anti-Semitism and promoting peaceful co-existence.

As a member of the Be'chol Lashon Speakers Bureau, Rabbi Sizomu travels to the United States every year as an ambassador for the Abayudaya and other emerging communities in Africa. Click here for more information about bringing Rabbi Sizomu to your community.

You can also e-mail speakers@bechollashon.org, or call us at 415.386.2604.

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Gershom Sizomu

Gershom Sizomu

Gershom Sizomu

Gershom Sizomu