The KKSY Community came together to celebrate Hanukka, The Festival of Light.

PVAO funded a community party and dinner. Every adult was asked to bring a small present such as a pencil, pen or even piece of fruit, that would  then be given out to each child attending the party. Traditionally children are given money and gifts at Hanukka. Candles placed in the menorah, are light and celebrations begin, they go on for 8 days.

Great Leadership And Compassion Shown During A Time Of Need


Recently the town of Mbale located close to the KKSY community, suffered extreme flooding.
People were left homeless, no electricity nor clean water,  schools and offices were closed. Transport came to a halt. The local hospital doctors did what they could with their very limited stock of medicines.


Tarphon Kamya the Head of *Jewish Response Africa (JRU) and the former Chairman on the KKSY Community, decided he had to do something to help those who were suffering the most. To that end, PVAO sent $500 to be used in the best way possible to support the homeless and hungry. With the PVAO donation, Tarphon bought food, blankets, clean drinking water and medicines.  World Jewish Relief in U.K. also contributed greatly towards the plight of those caught up in the disaster.


The Namatala Ward Local Government Council of Mbale were extremely thankful for the help provided. Tarphon on behalf of JRU, has been awarded a Certificate of Appreciation, by way of saying a big thank you to him, his community and PVAO .


See the two photos, the man on the right is Tarphon Kamya.



PVAO are so proud of Tarphon who showed true leadership and compassion at a time when was most needed.


JRU is an NGO set up by World Jewish Relief. The NGO is responsible for the agriculture side of the KKSY community. PVAO are proud to call themselves a partner of World Jewish Relief.


Hanukkah greeting from Uganda


Dear Friends and Supporters of KKSY Uganda,

We will soon be celebrating Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish Festival of Light.

Jews will celebrate this magical time of the year all around the world. None more so than the Sephardi communities in Uganda. The community leaders and members wish you send you their heartfelt Hanukka greetings!

With your generosity and support, they certainly have something special to celebrate.

This year, apart from now having their own new little synagogue, they are happy to share the news that they have had a successful agriculture season with – special thanks to the participation of World Jewish Relief –watermelons, peppers, and onions in abundance.

In addition, we are pleased that so many of our students have finished their Senior 4 level education. Now, PVAO are focusing on determining, with your help, the best way to continue to support the Sephardi families of Uganda. The plan for 2020 is to provide good, private, elementary education for the younger children.

There is also a need to buy more land so that the community can expand their agriculture program.

Another focus is overseeing online religious instruction, as some of the members want to be given the opportunity to study Judaism in more depth.

We hope that, with your support, we will be able to build a mikweh for the community in their present location, as the Putti mikweh is too far removed for our members. There is a plot of land close by with an active spring that would be very suitable as a water source for the mikweh. The owner is willing to sell it to the community for $3,000. Naturally, the land can also be used for agriculture as well. I hope to visit the sight in a few months to have a better idea about the exact location and condition of this plot, but at this moment, unfortunately, we do not yet have a budget for this purpose.

In addition, some of you may have heard about the severe floods that have hit the Mbale area. The region of KKSY and its sister congregations (yes.. there are 2!) is seriously affected. Once again, World Jewish Relief and PVAO have teamed up and made money available to alleviate some of the hardship of the families that were hit the hardest. It goes without saying that we did differentiate between Jewish and non-Jewish families…

PVAO was able to contribute $500 toward this cause.



Only with your help can we accomplish what we are setting out to do.

We hope you will support our beautiful Ugandan community with your end-of-year contribution.

We kindly ask you to CLICK HERE to donate online, or by sending a check to:

Attn. Sjimon den Hollander

21 East 22nd Street 12G

New York, NY 10010

Remember that we have a wonderful new KKSY calendar to buy online via our website. These calendars make great Hanukkah gifts!! Click the picture below to order.

All donations are used to fund KKSY programs. We do not spend any money on overhead or administration costs.

Thank you again for being part of our Team and for helping us support the KKSY Community.


Severe flooding in Mbale and surrounding areas

Dear All, just wanted to let you know that there have been severe flooding in Mbale area. Fortunately, our partners have not been directly affected but the situation is very concerning.

Livingstone University, where two of the WJR-sponsored students are studying, was severely flooded and even halt their exams

Jewish Response Uganda expressed willingness to support their affected neighbors – We were impressed with Tarphon’s leadership and commitment. According to Ekaterina, Tarphon on behalf of JRU, is really helping the people in the areas that have been worst hit., JRU has some savings which we are now using to purchase some food for the most affected (mainly elderly and children). Today Tarphon is assessing damage and needs with local leaders.

They are hoping PVAO would donate to this crisis, saying $500 would be great.
If you are able and willing, please give  to our emergency fund and make a note for Mbale flooding.

Or you can pay by check, checks should be made payable to Putti Village Assistance Organization (or simply PVAO). Checks should be mailed to:Putti Village Assistance Organization
Attn: Sjimon den Hollander

21 East 22nd Street, 12G
New York, NY 10010, USA


New Years Greeting

Dear Supporters of KKSY-Uganda,

What a year it has been…!

To our immense joy, PVAO are happy to report that our KKSY Sephardi Community has continued to increase in strength, moving further towards self-sustainability and a flourishing Jewish life.

Of course, there is still a very long road ahead with the unavoidable ups and downs, but we have so much to be grateful for.

In the last year, with the help of PVAO supporters (special thanks to Joel!), KKSY-Uganda was able to build a synagogue on their new land. A temporary one to be sure, but workable -if need be- for at least the next decade.

PVAO have plans in the fullness of time, over several years, to build a permanent synagogue complex which would include classrooms, an office, a library and a guesthouse. Right now, these are merely dreams, but with your help and donations they can become a reality.

Families have been able to increase their livelihood through the agricultural project led by Jewish Response Uganda to which we are so much indebted. As Chairman of PVAO, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jewish Response Uganda for their outstanding support. The programs put into place by them have been an outstanding contribution to the lives of our KKSY members.

I would also like to say ‘thank you so much’ to my fellow PVAO board members, Ros, Fred, Joel, Hindy, Dahlyt and Moshe, who put so much time and work into this and without whom PVAO might not exist.

And last but not least, a big thank-you to all our donors including those who have helped fund our educational and medical branches, notably Jacob, Fred, Ralph, Mort ‘n Viv, Nancy, Judith, Hindy and all those amazing people who wish to remain anonymous.

Finally, dear friends, we kindly invite you to make a meaningful New Year donation towards our projects (incl. education, building and medical).
Important holidays like Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur are especially appropriate moments to remember our brothers and sisters that are near to our hearts. You can make your highly appreciated donations online via our website or you can send a check made out to PVAO, addressed to myself.

I wish you all a wonderful, happy and peaceful, New Year.
Thank you again for your support, always much needed and appreciated.

ותזכו לשנים רבות נעימות וטובות, ולמעשים טובים










Rabbi Sjimon den Hollander

PVAO Chairman





21 East 22nd Street 12G
New York, NY 10010


PVAO Came To The Rescue!

The KKSY community were devastated when just before Shavout, their simple little synagogue collapsed following extremely strong winds and heavy rain. PVAO came to the rescue!
Within a matter of days, funds were raised and people were brainstorming what to do.
Rabbi Sjimon den Hollander, the PVAO Chairman, together with Joel Beattie one of the PVAO members, came up with a solution.
 They drew up plans and asked local builders to suggest ways of rebuilding a structure would would stand for a least the next five years. One important change would be that the new building would be supported this time, by metal poles instead of wooden ones, which the termites eat their way thru.
Funds were raised from PVAO members themselves, as well as from within KKSY community. Others who heard thru social media of the need to rebuild a place to pray, as soon as possible, and were generous and happy to donate towards.
Currently, the new secure structure, which took about three weeks to build, is almost finished….well in time for Rosh Hashanah.
All we need now is a solar panel, any offers greatly accepted! and to find some additional funding to buy suitable chairs. The building will also double up as a library, a meeting place and a classroom.
Over the next few years, PVAO have plans to build a permanent Sephardi synagogue close to where the KKSY members live. Plans are now being drawn up and costings worked out.


 Check out the video of the construction of the new temporary Synagogue:

A Hebrew Class at KKSY

During her recent very hectic week visiting the KKSY Community, Ekaterina Mitiaev from World Jewish Relief, took time off  in order to give some of KKSY members in class in Hebrew. Since Ekaterina spent considerable time living in Israel, she was ideally suited to hold this impromptu class, in which she taught students the basics of how to greet one another in Hebrew and how to respond in Hebrew. The students were very eager to learn and each played a part in being both the ‘greeter’ then the ‘responder’. KKSY regularly receive visitors from Israel, so Ekaterina thought how nice it would be if at least some the KKSY members, knew how to converse in basic Hebrew with them, even only in a limited way. KKSY  is now eagerly awaiting for their next visitors from Israel to arrive, so they can put into practice what they learnt.


          Shavuot, the ‘Festival of Weeks,’ marks the end of a seven-week period that connects the Exodus from Egypt (Pesaḥ) with the giving of the Torah. The holiday is observed fifty days after the first day of Passover and it has five different names, each connected to a different aspect of the holiday’s meaning:

1) Firstly, Ḥagh ha-Shabhu`oth  חַג הַשָּׁבוּעוֹת is the name for the holiday that is most commonly used. It means the (Pilgrim) Festival of Weeks. (In the Torah, the word Ḥagh/Chag (חג) is only used for the three pilgrim festivals.)

2) The name Ḥagh ha-Qaṣîr, חַג הַקָּצִיר (Pilgrim) Harvest Festival, refers to the celebration of the summer’s wheat harvest.

3) Yom ha-Bikkurîm  יוֹם הַבִּכּוּרִים(Day of the Firstlings) refers to the first fruits that were brought and offered in the Temple.

4) In the Talmud, Shavuot is called Aṣṣèreth עֲצֶּרֶת. The word Aṣṣèreth can mean a few things. In Biblical Hebrew it means Festive Assembly. It can also mean “Finalizing”. As Pesach and Shavuot are connected through the counting of the `Omer, in a way, Shavuot is the finalization of Pesach. It is also a Finalization because Pesach was the beginning of the grain harvest, while Shavu’oth marks the end of this season. Therefore Shavout was the time when farmers brought their tithings from these harvests.

5) In the liturgy, Shavuot is called Zemàn Mattàn Torathénu  זְמַן מַתַּן תּוֹרָתֵנוּ (The Time of the Giving of Our Torah), indicating that we are celebrating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai which happened around this time as well.

During the times of the Temple, Shavuot was one of the three holidays for which Jews were required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with offerings of livestock and produce.


In the synagogue service, we commemorate the giving of the Torah by reading the Ten Commandments.


On Shavuot, there is a beautiful tradition to decorate our synagogues with flowers, in part as a celebration of the harvest season.


Also, special piyyutim (medieval poems) are read. Most remarkably as a long poem called Azharot, written by Shelomo ibn Gabirol. It has all the 613 commandments of the Torah in rhyme. The custom of the K.K. Sefardi congregations in New York, Amsterdam, London, Philadelphia, and others is for the men to read this in the afternoon before Minḥa, where everyone takes turns and read a few lines before the next person takes over. On the afternoon on the first day of Shavuot, the first half is read with the negative commandments (the prohibitions, “what we may not do”), and on the second day, the positive commandments are read (“what we must do”).
Click here to listen to the Azharot melody:


Then, there is the reading of Meghillàth Rūth, the Book of Ruth. In many congregations, this is also read in the afternoon, after the Azharot. The custom in K.K. Shearith Israel in New York is that pre-Bat Mitzwa girls read the Book of Ruth after morning service.

One reason given for reading the Book of Ruth is that Ruth declared: “Where you go, I will go, where you sleep, I will sleep, your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” Ruth chose to follow her mother-in-law Naomi and to remain with the Jewish people. As such, she can be compared to the Israelites who accepted the Torah. Also, Ruth’s story takes place during the wheat harvest, and her story is therefore appropriate for the Harvest Festival (Ḥagh ha-Qaṣîr).

The Book of Ruth is read with a very special tune.
Here is a recording of the first chapter of Ruth:
For the other chapters, see here:

Most people have also heard of the Ashkenazi custom to eat dairy foods. This custom started in the late Middle Ages with the eating of dairy pancakes (‘pladen’) and it was most likely taken over from an Eastern Christian holiday called Meslenitsa. Later, different explanations were found to give Jewish meaning to the custom. One interpretation for this tradition became that it symbolizes the ‘rebirth’ that the Israelites underwent by receiving the Torah and that the Torah is like nourishing milk.


Then there is the Qabbalistic practice of Tikkun Lél Shavuot, a night-long study of Torah that ends with prayer at sunrise. This practice began in the 1500s in the city of Safed.

Shavuot is a short holiday but full of traditions. Ultimately, the holiday is a celebration of the Torah as the source of light for the Jewish people and the guidebook that guides us throughout the years. The Jews of today echo their spiritual ancestors when they said to God “Na`asèh we-Nishma`,”: “We will do, and we will listen!”


Finally, how is the name of the festival correctly pronounced?
In Modern Hebrew the pronunciation is: Sha-vu-ot.
However, most old Sephardi communities have the tradition to pronounce the v as b, so then it becomes: Shabu’ot (if this is historically correct is a matter of discussion, and we will talk about this another time). I often spell it as bh to avoid discussions: as Shabhu’ot. Those who want to say b, see b, and they can say b, and others can pronounce bh as v (like ph is often pronounced as f).
Sephardim who are very precise pronounce the letter ת without a dot as th… That makes it Shabu`oth (like the th in Ruth, and Shabbāth).

Most importantly, according to the rules of Biblical grammar and the laws of the Talmud, the letter between the u and the o (the letter `ayin) must be clearly pronounced. The Talmud even teaches that someone who cannot pronounce the letter alef (א) different from the `ayin (ע) may not read the Torah for the congregation or lead the prayers. That is because confusing the letters can give a whole different meaning! Most certainly, the original pronunciation of the `ayin (ע) is the same as the Arabic letter `ayn (ع), a sound that is made deep down in the throat. On the internet, that sound is often written as a 3 (so then the name of the holiday can be written as: Shabhu3oth or Shabu3ot). But that throat-sound is very hard to make for many people who do not have it in their language. What to do?
In Europe, there was a wide-spread custom to pronounce the `ayin (ע) as ng (like in the word ‘singing’). Unfortunately, it has mostly disappeared, but it is still practiced by some Sephardi communities in Europe and North America. For instance, you can hear it in the link of the Ruth recording in this article. When I visited KKSY for the first time in 2004, people told me that the Arabic sound was too hard to make, so the community decided to adopt the custom of pronouncing the `ayin (ע) as ng. Under Ashkenazi influence, because people studying in Israel in Ashkenazi yeshibhoth, it was sadly abandoned , but even years later, I have seen footage and heard recordings from KKSY people singing and praying, using this pronunciation (le-Ngolam waNged, Shir haMangalot, counting the Ngomer, etc.), and it made me very happy. So, based on this KKSY tradition, the name of the holiday is to be pronounced as: Shabungot.


Have a wonderful holiday,
חג שבועות שמח!


Rabbi Sjimon den Hollander,
With the help of my friend H.D.

Yet another great season, (we hope)!

The photos show big green pepper plants doing well and being looked after by KKSY members, under the ever watchful eye of Ekaterina Mitiaev, who heads the Jewish Relief Uganda (JRU) ngo. project set up to teach agricultural farming to the willing community.
Other crops currently being grown are, water-melons and onions.
Ekaterina will be seeing the  progress of the planting for herself when she arrives there in early June.
PVAO are proud to partner World Jewish Relief in this wonderful ongoing project.


Raid on Entebbe Remembered

Shown in the photo is the brother of Dr Jonathan Natanyahu who was killed in the hijacking of an aeroplane forced to land in Entebbe airport Uganda,  on June 27 1976. (see film Raid on Entebbe).
Dr Idor Natanyahu, brother on Benjamin Natanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, is standing with Erisha Ziraba, the Spiritual Leader of the  KKSY Putti Commuity.
Erisha is also highly involved in the NGO Jewish Relief Uganda, the agricultural side of their community.
A team from Israel working with Marom Jewish Center in Kampala, Uganda, visited the KKSY JRU offfices recently.
They were really impressed with their findings. Follow on from their visit, they invited Erisha and other young representatives of KKSY Community as well Abayudaya members from different neighbouring Jewish Communities, to the official opening in Kampala of the new Marom building.  The mayor of Division Makindye in Kampala and other government officials were in attendance.
Erisha said, “The KKSY community is becoming unique and many people are getting interested their leadership and the way things are conducted in KKSY”.