Resolution on Ugandan Jews and Israel

Posted on: Wednesday February 28, 2018

Whereas, in the Jewish tradition, the Land of Israel is the irreplaceable spiritual home and center of the Jewish people, providing an unparalleled immersive context to live and practice Judaism; and

Whereas, this predominance is vouchsafed in modern times by the State of Israel which, from its founding, has encouraged world Jewry to visit and settle the Land of Israel; and

Whereas, converts to Judaism, regardless of their national origin, are privy to this privilege and its blessings, both in Jewish law and in Israeli law; and

Whereas, the Abayudaya Community of Uganda, whose path towards Judaism is almost 100 years old, converted to Judaism under the auspices of the Conservative Movement beginning in 2002, fulfilling all the ritual and halachic requisites, their communities have been members of the Masorti Movement, thus making the Abayudaya Community of Uganda a regular and recognized community of Conservative Jews like any other; and

Whereas the Israeli immigration authorities have systematically delayed, blocked, or rejected the Visa applications of Abayudaya Jews to come visit and study in Israel and participate, through the MASA program, in programs like the Conservative Yeshiva or Pardes, which have immensely benefited Diaspora Jews from the Developed World; and

Whereas, in December 2017, Mr. Yehuda Kimani, who converted through the auspices of the Abayudaya community and was coming for a brief session of study at the Conservative Yeshiva, was denied entry to the State of Israel despite having a valid visa and was deported upon arrival; and

Whereas the Ministry of Interior refuses to recognize the Abayudaya as a recognized Jewish community, thus denying many benefits like visa waivers to study in Israel, Masa scholarship eligibility, and the possibility of making aliyah.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly should devote resources to raise awareness among our communities, our allies, and our leaders about the incredible contributions and potential of the Abayudaya community; and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly stand behind the undeniable fact that the Abayudaya are a legitimate Jewish community and that it must be recognized as such by the Jewish State; and

Be it further resolved, since the Abayudaya are a legitimate Jewish community, its members, including Mr. Yehudah Kimani, must be welcomed into the State of Israel as would any other Jew from the Diaspora; and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage its members to reach out to the Abayudaya, and invite emerging Abayudaya leaders to our communities, camps, and organizations to build bridges between this inspiring community and the rest of the Masorti/Conservative Movement.