Ugandan Jews

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The Abayudaya (Abayudaya is Luganda for “People of Judah”, analogous to Children of Israel) are a Baganda community in eastern Uganda near the town of  Mbale who practice Judaism.  Although they are not genetically or historically related to other ethnic Jews, they are devout in their practice of the religion, keeping their version of kashruth, and observing Shabbat.

There are several different villages where the Ugandan Jews live. Most of these are recognized by the Reform and Conservative Judaism.  However, the villagers of  Putti are still seeking an Orthodox conversion and practice strict Rabbinical Judaism.

Their population is estimated at approximately 1,100, having once been as large as 3,000 (prior to the persecutions of the Idi Amin regime); like their neighbors, they are subsistence farmers. Most Abayudaya are of  Bagwere origin, except for those from Namutumba who are Basoga. They speak Luganda, Lusoga or Lugwere, although some have learned Hebrew as well (more in Wikipedia).

Ugandan Jews,  singing “Lecha Dodi” with their local melody.

Album: “Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda”
Genres: World, Music
Released: Oct 21, 2003 ℗ 2003 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Price: $11.99

Listen to a sample/buy CD

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