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”.

Ugandan Jews Celebrating the 71st anniversary of the State of Israel

Last week, the Prime Minister of Uganda, Ruhakana Rugunda, hosted a wonderful event in the capital city of Kampala, in order to celebrate the 71st anniversary of the State of Israel.

Two founder members of the KKSY-Putti Jewish Community were invited to attend.
Tarphon Kamya together with Erisha Ziraba, the KKSY Spiritual Leader, travelled the 8 hour road journey to Kampala so they could attend the party.

Tarphon said “I am was honoured and delighted to have been invited and to know that finally the KKSY community are being accepted as the orthodox voice of Judaism in Uganda.
it’s taken a while for us to get here but we’ve made it, we have been acknowledged“.

Tarphon and Erisha were proud to hold up the Israeli flag and wear their kippot (head covering) in public, they felt safe and protected by the general Ugandan population.

Other Abayudaya (Jews of Uganda), headed by Rabbi Gershom who represents Liberal Judaism, were also invited to participate in the happy celebrations.

All the Jews who stayed for dinner, were given kosher food, brought in from Israel.

It seems that Uganda has made it government policy to accept the State of Israel and to include the Jews of Uganda in their future plans.

Tarphon and Erisha will never forget the wonderful hospitality offered to them and look forward to many more official celebrations to come.

Q & A on Pesach

How can we, in Uganda, celebrate Pesach if we cannot buy Matzot or Kosher Wine?

(The first part of my answer is an edited version of a 2013 article by my friend Shayna Zamkanei in The Times of Israel)

 

Passover begins in a few weeks, and many Jews are purchasing square “matzos” sold in cardboard boxes. But why?

In an 2004 article on www.Aish.com called “The Inner Meaning of Matzah”, rabbi Pinchas Stolper wrote: “We bake flat, crisp matzah in order to reenact the Exodus, when the Children of Israel fled Egypt in a hurry.” However, the truth is, when fleeing Egypt, the Children of Israel did not eat “flat, crisp matzah”. In fact, this flat Pesach-“bread” was were not eaten until the 19th century.

What the Israelites ate was massá (a more historically accurate transliteration than “matzah”), and that massá looked very similar to a soft pita.

We know this to be true for several reasons, the first of which is the “korékh” component of the haggadá (usually called the Seder by Ashkenazim). “Korékh” means to roll up or to wrap around, and that is what we are supposed to do when remembering Hillel and making the “Hillel sandwich.” Since we cannot roll massá that is hard and crisp, this proves that massá used to be soft and pliable.

Second, it is clear from the Babylonian Talmud (Pesachim 7a) that bread and massá looked the same and could be easily confused: “Rabbah the son of Ribbi Huna said in the name of Rab: If a moldy loaf [is found during Pesah in a bread bin and we are uncertain whether it is bread or massá], if the majority of loaves [in the bin] are massá it is permitted [because we assume it to be like the majority].”
Besides this source clearly showing that one could not see the difference between massá and bread, the massá currently sold in most stores also never grows mold, no matter what we do to it. Soft massá, on the other hand, easily does.

We find more proof in later sources as well. And while eating soft massá is nowadays often seen as a specifically Sephardi custom, even Ashkenazi sources refer to massá as soft and much thicker than crackers…

For example, the Rama (Rabbi Moshe Isserlis) wrote that massá should be made thinner than a tefach (around 3 inches). A tefach thick was recommended in the Babylonian Talmud…
Also, the (Ashkenazi) Chafetz Chaim advised that massá be made “soft as a sponge” (Mishna Berura, Orach Haim 486).
In “The Laws of Baking massá,” the Shulchan Aruch deems baking to be sufficient  when “no threads can be pulled from it.”
Rabbi Hershel Schachter, rabbinic dean at Yeshiva University and halakhic advisor for the kashruth division of the Orthodox Union, stated clearly that there is nothing that prohibits anyone (even Ashkenazi Jews) from eating soft massá.

 

Today’s incarnated form of massá started with the industrial production beginning in the 1800s. Eating massá that resembles a cracker needlessly changes the Passover experience into an artificial one without any roots in Jewish sources but rather dictated by the needs of a commercial industry (easy mass production and unlimited shelf life). In any area with a Jewish community, there is no excuse for not producing soft massot, as the Israelites did.

 

Anybody who teaches that our ancestors ate crispy massot while leaving Egypt, is perverting history and reading a new custom into the Torah.

 

In conclusion, baking your own massot is on a much higher level to than to get them in boxes from Israel.

In order for you to seewith your own eyes how these massot can be baked, I posted three different videos.

1)      Here is a video of a Rabbi and his family making massot at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3lkauu3f-k

2)      Here are (Syrian) Sephardi Jews who bake softer, thicker massot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbmFdXS7tqk

3)      In my opinion, the most delicious ones are the Yemenite style massot.
These massot seem to be the closest to the ones that were eaten in the times of the Torah and the Talmud.
In this video, you can see that they also use some oil, and egg, and some herbs, which is all optional. They come out soft and the “Hillel Sandwich” (korékh) is actually a bread roll, like it originally was.
Here is the video showing how these are made and what they look like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XELBl70zd7Y

 

Massot with egg is – according to custom – however not used for the haggadá ceremony, but can be freely made and eaten during the other meals of Pesach.

It is important to keep in mind, that when baking massot, according to halakha, we have a maximum of 18 minutes. Ashkenazim start to count the 18 minutes when the moment the water is mixed with the flour. But Sephardim (and that is the original halakha) only start counting after the kneading is stopped. And one can knead the dough as long as wanted. It is therefore smart to keep kneading until right before it is flattened and baked.

As far as the Haggadá is concerned, the Shearith Israel holiday prayer books have the Haggadah printed, starting on page 61!

If you have no kashér (kosher) wine, you should use regular grape juice from the store. It is true that grape juice is halakhically considered wine and falls under the same rules and restrictions, but one of these rules is that wine which has been cooked (boiled for even a second), is kashér. It so happens that commercially produced grape juice is always pasteurized (which is, halakhically speaking, cooked) and therefore kashér and can be used for Pesach.

 

Rabbi Sjimon den Hollander

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT PURIM

JEWS ALL OVER THE WORLD WILL BE CELEBRATING THE WONDERFUL PURIM HOLIDAY

 

Here are some QUESTIONS and ANSWERS ABOUT PURIM, as written by rabbi Sjimon den Hollander PVAO Chairman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PURIM March 20-21 2019 CELEBRATION

 

Question:

What are the most important things to observe on Purim?

Answer:

There are four obligations to fulfill on Purim:
1) Listening to the Meghilla
2) A Sengudat Mitzwa (A festive meal)
3) Mishloach Manot (Sending food)
4) Mattanot la-Evyonim (Gifts for the Poor)

 

Question:

What is the Meghilla?

Answer:

The Meghilla is the Book of Ester. Meghilla literally means scroll. The Meghilla is read from a scroll.

 

Question:

When should we listen to the Meghilla?

Answer:

Two times: Both in the evening of Purim (Purim Eve), and also during the day of Purim.

 

Question:

I have learned that women are exempt from certain commandments. What about listening to the Meghilla?

Answer:

When it comes to listening to the Meghilla, women are also obligated.

 

Question:

Do we fulfill this obligation if the Book of Ester is read from a regular book?

Answer:

Unfortunately, that does not fulfill the commandment.  However, if there is nobody with an Ester-scroll, then it is the best you can do.

 

Question:

If the obligation is to listen to the Meghilla which is read from a scroll, can we listen to a recording of someone who read it from a scroll?

Answer:

Most rabbis believe that listening to a recording is not valid, but there is an opinion that it is enough to fulfill the mitzwa. Once again, if there is no real Meghilla, it is advisable to listen to a recording.
Here is a link to a recording, written from a scroll. The style is of the Sephardi Jews from Iraq:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbmYiQNmXYw

 

This is another link, much more attractive in my opinion, in the real style of Kahal Kadosh Shearith Israel, recorded in New York, but unfortunately not recorded from a scroll.
Excellent for those who want to study the tune for next year!!!!
https://shearithisrael.org/megillat-esther

 

Question:

If it is a requirement to listen to the Meghilla, then how can there be a custom to make noise during the reading of Haman? Doesn’t it prevent you from hearing every word?

Answer:

This is very true. The noise making during the reading of the name Haman, is a very late custom which started within some Ashkenazi communities. Most rabbis were actually against it. Unfortunately, the custom spread throughout most Jewish communities. But even today, there are still Sephardi synagogues that do not allow it. This is the only right we: to read the Meghilla with dignity, so we can hear every word.
However, there is no problem, when we tell the story to children in their own language, if they make noise during the naming of Haman.

 

Question:

The story of Ester is such an important story. Why is it not part of the Torah?

Answer:

The story of Ester took place many centuries after the life of Moses.

 

Question:

What is the Sengudat Mitzwa?

Answer:

The word Sengudaa (סעודה), often written as Seudah or Se’udah, means a meal.
A Sengudat Mitzwa is a prescribed, festive meal.

Question:

When should we have this festive meal?

Answer:

The meal should be had on the day of Purim itself. Of course, it is nice to have a meal in the evening as well, but the Sengudat Mitzwa can only be fulfilled during the daytime.

 

Question:

Should we have this meal with a lot of people, or can it just be with our own family?

Answer:

It can be just with your own family, but it is nice to invite people. In some communities, the people cook together and have a meal with the entire community. However, you can even have it alone (although, that is not as festive of course).

 

Question: Isn’t there also an obligation to drink until you don’t know the difference between Mordechai and Haman? Does that also apply for young children?

Answer:

I believe the idea that one has to get drunk on Purim is based on a misunderstanding. It seems that in the time of the Talmud, there were some who got drunk on Purim. While they were drunk, they would do bad things. The majority then limited the drinking by saying: Only drink until you do not know the difference between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman”. (Not: between Mordechai and Haman!!!). Blessed is Mordechai in fact means: “May the good side win!”, and Curses is Haman means: “May the bad side lose!” In fact, there is no difference between the two; if the good side wins, the bad side loses. So after you take your first sip, if you ask yourself what the difference is between the two, you will realize that you don’t know, and you need to stop right away.
Maimonides (the Rambam) is very clear that getting drunk is equal to idol worship, at all occasions, also on Purim. Because God stands for reason, and when you are dunk, you erase your reason. Furthermore, being drunk is damaging to the body, and especially to the brain, and we are not allowed to cause ourselves damage.

 

Some others say that, a person should drink just a little more than usual, and then take a nap, because , when you sleep, you certainly do not know the difference between Blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman.

 

Question:

What is Mishloach Manot?

Answer:

Mishloach Manot is the mitzwa to give food.

 

Question:

To how many people should we give food?

Answer:

We should give food to at least one person, but we can give to as many as we like.

 

Question:

What kind of food should we give?

Answer:

It should be at least two different types of food. Also, the food should be prepared.
So packets of tea, or a pack of rice which still must be boiled, is not a valid way to fulfill this mitzwa.

 

Question:

When should the food be given?

Answer:

The food should be given on the day of Purim itself.

 

Question:

Do poor people also need to give food to other poor people?

Answer:

Poor people also are required to fulfill the mitzwa. Hopefully, if two poor people exchange their food, they both have fulfilled the requirement.

 

Question:

Can we give Mishloach Manot and Mattanot la-Evyonim to non-Jewish people?

Answer:

The mitzwa is only fulfilled by giving these to Jews. That makes sense, because these gifts are given to them to help them celebrate Purim with happiness and joy, and non-Jews generally do not celebrate Purim. However, it is still a good idea, after we give the required gifts to Jews, and in addition to share the joy and also give something to non-Jews.

 

Question:

What is Mattanot La-Evyonim?

Answer:

Mattanot La-Evyonim is the mitzwa to give money to poor people on the day of Purim.

 

Question:

To how many people should we give money?

Answer:

At least to two individuals.

 

Question:

How much money should we give to each person?

Answer:

The amount we give should at least be enough for the person the buy a meal.

 

Question:

When should the money be given?

Answer:

The money should be given on the day of Purim itself.
Sometimes a person is assigned to collect Mattanot la-Evyonim from a number of people and then to distribute it among the poor. Such a person can collect the monies before Purim, but he must make sure to hand it to the poor during Purim.

 

Question:

Can we give it to these poor individuals together as a family, or should every member of my family fulfill this mitzwah?

Answer:

It should be done by each member of the family separately. Even though pre-bar/bat mitzwa children are technically not obligated, it is a very good way of teaching them to be charitable when they hand over money to a poor person.

 

Question:

Do poor people also need to give money to other poor people?

Answer:

Poor people also are required to fulfill the mitzwa. Hopefully, they will also receive from others as well. Several people can exchange money back-and-forth. It is important for even poor people to understand that they should not only expect to receive but also to support and contribute to others.

 

Question:

What is the proper greeting for Purim?

Answer:

Many people mistakenly say “Chag Sameach”, especially in Israel. However, in the Torah, the word Chag is only used for the Pilgrim Festivals: Pesach, Shabungot and Sukkot.
A better greeting is Purim Sameach!  An old Sephardi greeting is: Purim Alegre!

 

Purim Alegre to you all!
Rabbi Sjimon den Hollande

Featured in the TIMES (U.K) newspaper on Saturday Feb 9 2019

THE TIMES

Saturday February 9 2019 | thetimes.co.uk | No 72766

Ros Eisen, London based secretary of PVAO was recently interviewed and we are delighted to inform you that a huge article was written about KKSY/World Jewish Relief which appeared on p 81 of The Times UK newspaper.

The group, founded 100 years ago, have been supported by Jewish charities to grow produce such as peppers and onions

When Ros Eisen embarked on a gorilla trek in Uganda ten years ago, she had no idea that her trip to Africa would have such a lasting impact.

She had reserached Uganda before she left, and had been intrigued to read about a Jewish group living there. A member of a mainstream Orthodox synagogue in London, she was curious about Jews who lived in faraway places. Yet the businesswoman from Belsize Park in north London had been unaware of the existence of the Abayudaya, as Uganda’s Jews are called.

While Ethiopian Jews, now mostly settled in Israel, were long established — descendants of the Queen of Sheba according to their lore — the Abayudaya are a new community.

They were founded 100 years ago by Semei Kakungulu, a chieftain who converted to Christianity in the 1880s and helped the British to gain control over eastern Uganda. However, disenchanted with the British, he began to set out on his own spiritual path, circumcising himself in his fifties and adopting a lifestyle based on the Old Testament.

The Abayudaya survived the tyranny of Idi Amin, who suppressed their synagogues in the 1970s. Now they number an estimated 1,500 to 2,000.

Eisen headed for Putti, a village in the east of the country where a few hundred Jews have lived peaceably alongside Christian and Muslim neighbours.

She was “horrified” to find the villagers had no running water or electricity. “I noticed a lot of the children had distended stomachs and didn’t have shoes,” she says. “I asked somebody what the major cause of death was in the community; and they said malaria.”

They could not afford mezuzot (the receptacles containing passages from the Torah that Jews are commanded in Deuteronomy to affix to their doorposts) for their ramshackle homes. “They would scratch out Magen Davids [Stars of David] and menorahs [the Temple lamps] with a chalk or a stone on a piece of wood and they would also write, ‘Shalom’. It was very moving.”

Eisen ordered mosquito nets through a local doctor and bought shoes and eggs for the children.

Back in the UK, she co-founded a charity, the Putti Village Assistance Organisation (PVAO), to provide practical and religious support.

Over the years, the Putti Jews have acquired prayer shawls and Hebrew prayer books. “They lit Shabbat candles, they would have a Friday night service, they wouldn’t work on Saturday,” Eisen says. “They abstained on fast days and observed the Jewish holidays. The male children were circumcised and the boys were bar mitzvah’d in a very simple way.”

When she met them, they couldn’t eat chicken because they didn’t have the implements for kosher slaughter. So her charity arranged for a rabbinically approved knife and grinding stone to be sent from Israel.

Although the Abayudaya practised Judaism to the best of their knowledge, it took some time before they were recognised elsewhere. Most were formally converted in the early 2000s through the Masorti (Conservative) Jewish stream; Masorti conversions, however, are not considered valid by Israel’s Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.

In time, the PVAO focused on a group of Putti Jews who wanted to affiliate with Orthodoxy. Rabbis travelled to conduct conversions, but one of the requirements is immersion in a mikveh, a ritual bath.

“So they had to have a mikveh,” Eisen says. “My charity put up the money to buy the land and we had plans drawn up in Israel.”

The Putti Jews call themselves the Kahal Kadosh She’erit Yisrael (KKSY), “Holy Congregation of the Remnant of Israel”, following the Sephardic rites. A group from KKSY have studied at a yeshiva in Israel. PVAO’s chairman, Rabbi Sjimon den Hollander, conducts weekly religion classes for the community in Uganda via Skype or WhatsApp.

“They are hungry for more knowledge,” Eisen says. “Some of them want to become rabbis.”

PVAO is also helping the community to become self-sufficient. With the British Jewish charity, World Jewish Relief, it has funded agricultural training for the KKSY, enabling them to grow produce such as watermelons, peppers and onions. It plans to develop vocational training, in dressmaking or carpentry for example, during the year.

Like other Abayudaya, the KKSY will be celebrating its centenary this year. Jews from nearby Buseta will join them for the festivities. “They are also going to buy orange and mango trees and plant them in each corner of their land,” Eisen says.

For Mama Ros, as KKSY have affectionately dubbed Eisen, “the old lady from England with the raven voice”, helping this community will be “a lifetime’s work”.

The Abayudaya may not be alone. Other more recent Jewish outposts have sprung up in Africa, in Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. More than a hundred people in Madagascar converted to Judaism three years ago. A new chapter of the diaspora may be only just beginning.

-Article written by Simon Rocker, for the TIMES (U.K) newspaper Feb 2019

Ros Eisen’s Talk on The Jews of Uganda.

Northwood and Pinner U.K. Synagogue.

Some 30 or so guests, who are all members of Northwood J.A.C.S (Jewish Association of Cultural Societies), listened  most attentively for over an hour, whilst Ros spoke about the KKSY Putti Community in Uganda. A backdrop of several  beautiful photographs illustrating the KKSY Community was on view  during her Talk, which was well received. There followed a Q & A session in which Ros was asked about how KKSY members study Judaism?, to which she responded that Rabbi Sjimon den Hollander the PVAO Chairman offers Skype or Whatsapp weekly classes on orthodox Judaism.
She was also asked if all the male members of KKSY are circumcised and have they been Bar Mitvah, to which she replied yes in both cases.
Another question was, are the KKSY Community going to live in Israel, to which she replied, most definitely not, they love Uganda, it’s their home and where they want to remain.

Ros is now looking forward to giving the same Talk at other J.A.C.S Meetings held regularly throughout London.

Donations received from J.A.C.S will be sent to help fund the PVAO Health Project in KKSY

The below three photos, were taken from inside the synagogue building.

Ros Speaking On The Jews Of Uganda

The Jews of Uganda

On Jan 31st Ros Eisen, London based secretary of PVAO, spoke on “The Jews of Uganda” in London, England.  The venue was the SAFIRE Group at Stanmore & Canons Park synagogue. Approx. 80 guests arrived and listened mostl attentively. She received great feed-back and some donations as well!

 

 

Forthcoming Events!!

Ros will be giving the same talk at the following venues:

A) February 13th 2019 for the Northwood JACS  (Jewish Association of Cultural Societies) Group. Venue is Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue in Northwood, located just outside London, England.

 

B) March 3rd 2019, she will travel to the North of England, to be in Manchester where she will again give a one hour talk to ARK (Adults Requiring Knowledge), for the Menorah Community, Liberal synagogue.

    

The purpose of giving these Talks is to let the Jewish people of England know that there are Jews in Uganda. They will be told about the background of the these people, how and why they came to be. Where they live, how they conduct themselves as Jews and so on.
In addition Ros aims to do some fund-raising during the Talks. One of the way she plans to raise funds, is by selling some calendars featuring pictures of the life in the village. Board member Joel Beattie is mailing her some of the calendars from Seattle, WA (see video below).

 

 

For further info contact roseisen@puttivillage.org

 

A Visit to Wanjiku’s Grave

Emunah Wanjiku lived and died in Kenya, she was a wise lady and a very orthodox Jewess. So sadly missed by friends and family all over the world.

Here is a lovely letter by Suzanne Stern:

“Very moving photo… Amazed by the way this photo gives one a sense of a timeline of a Jewish family in Kenya.
…And it brings to mind how much has changed for the good and how much Emunah strove for her love of God and Judaism. 
So grateful for all the work and efforts you and PVAO have tirelessly given of yourselves. You have made an impact on people’s lives.
May Hashem continue to bless this family and the community with love and health, success and prosperity.”
Shabbat shalom dearest ones!!
Suzanne Stern

A Visit From A KKSY Board Member

Joel Beattie, one of our board members, visited KKSY in October, here is his report on his visit.

Day 1:
I just wanted to give a report on my successful trip to KKSY.  My son Chase and I arrived the afternoon of October 2nd, Simchat Torah.  We got settled in at the Lucia Villas.  We were then greeted by Tarphon, Elisha, and a few other men.  After introductions and getting caught up, we went to Tarphon’s home and received a tour while meeting his daughter.  At that time, we headed over to Joy Secondary School.  We were greeted by the headmaster and KKSY student teacher.  There were approximately 20 mid-to-older teenagers and we were given time to speak.  Traveling with me (my driver) was a good friend Moses Mukisa, who is also an agronomist and was also able to speak to the students and was able to encourage them in their studies as he grew up in the bush with no electricity or running water, an hour out of Masaka.  He was able to be sponsored, graduated from a major university in Kampala with a degree in agriculture, then being sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture of Uganda to live on a kibbutz for a year in Ashkelon and Ashdod, Israel.  After spending time with the students, we presented a soccer ball to the teacher.  After the school, we made a site visit to the property, which is 20 to 25 minutes from downtown Mbale.  When we arrived, there were additional men there and I was given an opportunity to speak to the men, approximately 12 to 15.  We were able to go out to dinner and had a delightful African meal with the small group of men.
Day 2:
Martin the agronomist from Uganda arrived and was going to be having a class and instruction time in the morning, and I thought it would be best if we were not around and causing a distraction as it was his first day on site, so we decided to drive up to Sipi Falls, which is a couple hours away.  We arrived back at the KKSY property and listened in on Martin’s afternoon session.  He mostly discussed proper spacing of vegetation, bell peppers, and specifics, along with being able to grid out, measure, and maximize your property.  That evening we were able to go out to dinner with the same small group of men.  I had asked Tarphon if all of the members would be able to come together at the temporary synagogue on the property the following morning and we agreed at 8:00 through 8:30 AM after morning prayer and before Martin started in on his second day of sessions.  Tarphon agreed.
Day 3:
We were able to arrive early on site and participate in morning prayer.  Then I was to speak to the entire community in attendance, approximately 50-60 men, women, and children.  I was able to take 10-15 minutes to talk to them, encourage them concerning new beginnings, second chances, taking advantage of now, also that they a representation of the Sephardic Orthodox Jewish community in Uganda and that not only are their immediate neighbors watching them, but also the global community.  Before coming to Uganda, I was able to procure a few items that ended up filling up three suitcases.  I was able to present these things at this time, such as soccer balls, cleats, shin guards, first aid kits, calcium pills for “the child”, some mens apparel, quite a bit of women’s dresses, skirts, and pants, an extreme amount of American candy.  Last but not least, two banners that I had printed up with a photo that I took on the shores of Caesarea during the sunset.  It was a great time had by all.  After the meeting was over, we headed out.
Day 4:
Chase, Moses, and myself were able to go to Entebbe and meet Ekaterina for an hour over a cup of coffee.  We were able to discuss how the visit went and hopes and expectations of the community over the next year and into the future.
Takeaways: I felt like our visit was extremely successful to be able to have a KKSY board member visit the community. If you have not visited the community, I strongly recommend that you find a way to do so.  Everyone that I met was extremely positive and upbeat.  I’m hoping to make a return visit in 2020.
Blessings,
Joel

A Visit From Rabbi Shimshon Nadel

Rabbi Shimshon Nadel who visited KKSY from Israel in October sent this lovely informal report on his Ugandan experience.

Monday, October 8th
Jonathan Lali, his brother Allan, and our driver Isaac met me at Entebbe Airport on Monday morning. Jonathan was exceptionally helpful during the planning process and execution of the trip. He arranged for ground transportation, my itinerary, and accompanied me throughout the journey. I could not have done it without him. I was very impressed. Isaac was super-professional, courteous, and overall a very good driver. I would not have been able to navigate the terrain without him.
We drove to Kampala and met with members of the Marom community – Esau, Yonatan, and Israel. We chatted for a bit and they shared with me about their community and vision.
Before leaving Kampala, I picked up food for myself from Chabad of Kampala. Not cheap, but good to know about for the kosher consumer concerned about eating local foods.
After a full day of driving, we arrived at the Mbale Resort Hotel approx. 11pm.
 
Tuesday, October 9th
Prayed Shacharit with KKSY members. Lots of singing and dancing. After prayers, I presented the community with Tefillin, Talitot, Tzitzit, and some books they requested, purchased from donations from friends and colleagues. We continued and had a number of classes until lunch. Following lunch we prayed Minchah, the afternoon service, sung some songs, and had more classes. We prayed Arvit shortly before nightfall.
It was a very positive day filled with learning and song. I was very impressed by the leadership of Elisha and Tarphon, who led prayers and really took the lead. They are great leaders for the community.
In the evening, I met with Tarphon, Elisha, his brother Allan, and Jonathan. We spoke about some of the challenges of the community, some of their goals and vision for the future (sending young people to study in Israel, building the synagogue), and I offered some suggestions and advice.

 

Wednesday, October 10th
Prayed Shacharit with KKSY members. Lots of singing and dancing. After prayers we had some classes and did more singing. I met Ekaterina Mitaev briefly after prayers. We said goodbye to the community and made a short visit to Sipi Falls. Afterwards we visited the synagogues in Namanyoni and Nabugoya. Then we visited Hadassah Primary School where I met with the headmaster, Aaron, and got to interact with the students. They taught me a song, and I taught them a song. The students and faculty very much enjoyed the visit – and the new songs they learned.

Afterwards, we began the long drive to Entebbe. We stopped off in Kampala at the home of Rabbi Gershom Sizomu. We immediately ‘hit it off’ and we had a very nice conversation for over an hour about the community, come of the challenges they face, his role as the rabbi and as a member of parliament. It was a very positive meeting.
Afterwards we continued to Entebbe Airport where I would continue on to S. Africa.
B’vracha,
Shimshon