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Rabbi Gershom Sizomu


Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is the first native-born black rabbi in Sub-Saharan Africa, the chief Rabbi of Uganda and the first Jewish member of the Ugandan Parliament.

Rabbi Sizomu is the leader of the Abayudaya Jewish Community, a 100-year-old community of approximately 2,000 Jews who live among their Christian and Muslim neighbors in scattered villages in Eastern Uganda. He grew up during the devastating reign of Idi Amin who outlawed Judaism. Given the Abayudaya's extreme minority status, his priority is his community's security.

He attended the five-year Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles from 2003-2008. As an ordained rabbi with a greater understanding of rabbinic Judaism and connection to the organized Jewish community, he returned to Uganda to continue to bring safety and security to his community.

He is also a Senior Rabbinic Associate at Be'chol Lashon, an American NGO, that partners with the Abayudaya to improve health and economic development. Providing access to clean water and mosquito nets, as well as building the Tobin Health Center in Mbale in 2010, has reduced mortality from malaria by 90%. Improved healthcare and community development provided by the Abayudaya Jews to their Christian and Muslim neighbors fosters goodwill and helps combat anti-Semitism.

A focus on interfaith cooperation paved the way for Rabbi Sizomu's election to the Ugandan parliament, which contributed to official recognition of the Abayudaya by the Jewish Agency in Israel in Spring 2017.

He is married to Tziporah and has five children: Igaal, Dafna, Naavah, Zivah and Nadav.

A charismatic speaker and accomplished musician, Rabbi Sizomu lectures about life in Uganda, leads services and/or teaches Abayudaya music.


Suggested presentation topics:

1. As a member of the Ugandan parliament, Rabbi Sizomu can shed light on the political, religious, economic and health issues facing Uganda, as well as Africa as a whole.

2. As charismatic rabbi and speaker, Rabbi Sizomu can conduct a service, give a sermon, and/or present about the unique history of the 100 year-old Abayudaya community, as well as his personal journey.

3. Part of history of the community involves providing life-saving community services that benefit not only the Abayudaya, but is a model for fostering interfaith cooperation with their Christian and Muslim neighbors.

4. As a skilled musician, he can perform and teach Abayudaya music and talk about the role of music in motivating the community (a Smithsonian recording, was nominated for a grammy).