Uganda Torah Project
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Dr Izzy Lieberman travels each year to Uganda for a medical mission. On his 2010 trip he ventured into northern Uganda on a voyage of discovery to find the Abayudaya Jewish Community that he had heard about. Prior to the trip Dr Lieberman had been in communication with Rabbi Enosh who leads a small "orthodox" Jewish community which unbeknownst to Dr Lieberman, had separated from the "conservative" community in the town of Mbale. In the email exchange Rabbi Enosh had requested a Bris Milah kit (circumcision kit). After a grueling 5.5 hour drive Dr Lieberman and the team arrived in the presumed area of Rabbi Enosh's village only to find out that they were in the local vicinity yet still had a 3-5 mile drive over muddy "boda-boda" (motorbike taxi) trails to arrive at the village of Putti. After a seeming eternity the van turned in to a compound of huts that were recognizably Jewish. Menorahs and David's Star painted on the walls or fabricated into the iron work windows were recognizable and comforting even though they were situated below the tina plate roofs on single room clay brick huts.

Putti Village Home

On arrival the team was greeted by Shira, the Rabbi's wife, and countless children. Unfortunately the Rabbi was summoned away to a funeral and would not be back. The team did however meet with the members of the community including the Chazzan (cantor) and the Emeritus Rabbi "Abraham" (presumed to be about 60 years). They invited the team to stay for the Havdallah ceremony (marking the end of the Sabbath) which was graciously accepted. The ceremony held in the synagogue was inspiring, moving and challenging all at once. They listened compassionately to a community of individuals struggling to survive as Jews, who described how they split off from the conservative Jews of Abayudaya, and who have absolutely nothing of material value but a paper Torah in a makeshift "Aron Kodesh" (the Torah ark). Yet they clutch on to the deep desire to be recognized as "Orthodox Jews".

 

 

Putti Community Synagogue Choir

In a moment of emotion and compulsion Dr Lieberman, being so touched by the communities dedication to their belief, promised to source and deliver a "Kosher Sefer Torah" to the village.

Much to the community's chagrin, Dr Lieberman and his team needed to take their leave as it was getting late. Despite the uncomfortable and treacherous 5 hour drive back to Kampala, Dr Lieberman and his team, so touched by the passion of the people of Putti, remain committed to return this coming summer (2011) and deliver a Sefer Torah to the Jewish community.

Putti Synagogue


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