Last Fall our community was visited by Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jewish Community in Uganda. During his visit, Rabbi Sizomu prayed with us, spoke to us and treated us to a wonderful musical performance; teaching us new melodies to familiar songs. He taught us about the history of the Abayudaya Jewish Community in Uganda, as well as its health and economic development.
When I contacted him earlier this week he informed me of the following dire situation, he wrote:
“Cliff, thank you for reaching out. Right now the community is not doing well due to hunger caused by a prolonged drought last year and a poor harvest this year. Please if possible mobilize some funding to buy food for the most vulnerable. About 500 community members are suffering.
$5.00 can feed one person for a week.”
The Hunger is Real, and the Need is Now.
It is vital that we act now. Beth El is accepting donations for the Abayudaya both online hereor by check through our office. 100% of these donations will be wired to Rabbi Sizomu and will immediately be put to use to feed those community members who are in distress.
In our first two days we have raised over $1,000, but more is needed. Please participate in this great mitzvah! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].
Cliff Spungen President, Beth El Congregation
August 4 Update:
UPDATE ON BETH EL’S SUPPORT OF THE ABAYUDAYA COMMUNITY OF UGANDA
Since late June, Beth El and the South Hills Jewish community have stepped up for our friends in Africa who are suffering from famine.
The work done by our community has been publicized across the country, and on three continents! I hope that you read the article last week in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, or saw it online published in Haaretz and on other sites. As a result, additional donations have come in to Beth El and, thus far, we have raised $8,766, all of which has been sent to Rabbi Gershom Sizomu. Rabbi Sizomu and other Abayudaya leaders have immediately used these funds for the purchase of food distributed to Jews, Christians and Moslems that live in the towns of Mbale, Nabugoya and Nasenyi, Uganda. I’ve attached several pictures from Rabbi Sizomu of the distribution of posho, corn flour, which is a local staple. Many more pictures may be seen on the Beth El website.
Happily the success of our project and the publicity it has engendered, has led to contributions from around the country, and now other groups are stepping up. In the past two weeks I spoke with the UJF in Pittsburgh, Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA, and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) based in Israel. The UJF has begun a campaign locally in which 100% of what is raised for the Abayudaya will be sent to Uganda through the Joint Distribution Committee. Contributions can be made through jfedpgh.org/uganda-famine-relief. Valley Beth Shalom (VBS), with 1,500 member units, is the fifth largest Conservative shul in the world. It’s president informed me that our efforts have led VBS to begin its own fundraising campaign. The IFCJ, led by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, seeks to build bridges between Christians and Jews and has raised millions of dollars to support impoverished Jews in many lands including the FSU, Ethiopia and Israel. It has now established a link with the Abayudaya and has pledged to help.
I am proud that our community has banded together to help others in need, and that our work is leading other communities to do the same. Beth El is still accepting donations and wire those funds to Rabbi Sizomu.
Over the past few weeks the South Hills Jewish Community, has come together to support our friends in Uganda, the Abayudaya community, get through a difficult time. This past Friday, July 14, we wired $2,652 to Rabbi Sizomu, to be used to purchase food. Over the past few weeks we have sent a total of $6,502 to feed the hungry.
We have done this through the help of dozens of individuals who made contributions through Beth El after hearing about this crises via emails and social media postings by Beth El, Temple Emanuel, and South Hills Jewish Pittsburgh.
I received this message of thanks from Rabbi Sizomu just last night
“Cliff I received the wire, thank you so much for saving our people from hunger. Please deliver our gratitude and appreciation to your community and thank you again for your kindness. Rabbi Gershom Sizomu
It is not too late to contribute. Beth El will continue for forward every dollar donated in this drive to our brothers and sisters in Uganda. Thank you for all of your help! “
President, Beth El Congregation
July 4 Update:
I received these photos from Rabbi Sizomu on the morning of July 4 from showing the distribution of some of the food purchased with the funds we raised this past week. Food is being distributed at each of the Abayudaya villages, including Mbale. The money we sent on Friday, June 4, $3,850, is a good start, and I hope that we can continue to help. You can still help by donating HERE.
Thanks again for your help in this mitzvah gedolah!
A Day in the Life of a Religious School Student at Beth El
April 3, 2019
My name is Shayna Bennett and I’m a student teacher at Beth El. I have grown up at Beth El and have been able to call this amazing synagogue my home away from home. And now as a teenager I have the privilege of sharing my love of this place with the next generation of…
The following is the text of Rabbi Amy’s 2018 Yom Kippur sermon: A few months ago, I was out for dinner with my book club. At the end of the meal, along with the check, the waitress gave us a handful of wrapped sesame candies. One of my friends said with a wistful smile, I…
Blessings are like a stop sign to remind us to slow down and thank God. Throughout the year in Bshul (cooking class) students have learned the blessings for every food group. I introduced the hand-washing blessing, Yadiim, and repeat it at the beginning of every cooking lesson. This keeps us holy and sanitary! For Shabbat…