The Abayudaya -- a group of Jews living in a remote collection of villages in eastern Uganda -- have opened a new synagogue, named the The Abayudaya Stern Synagogue and Community Center, after California philanthropists Ralph and Sue Stern, who helped finance the building. The Jewish community represent less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the population in Uganda, where Judaism was banned in the 1970s under Hitler-admiring dictator Idi Amin.
The building will serve the 2,000 or so Abayudaya, who once were 8,000-strong and have grown since they numbered about 300 under Amin’s persecution. The 7,000 square feet include a main sanctuary, an ancillary prayer room, and a mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath.
The Abayudaya (“people of Judah” in Luganda language) have also received philanthropic attention from Be’chol Lashon (“in all tongues” in Hebrew), a San Francisco-based non-profit that advocates for Jews of color worldwide. To help combat malaria in the community, Be’chol Lashon has sent mosquito nets, built a medical clinic, and financed the digging of clean water wells.