The Jewish Federation of Howard County and the Howard County Board of Rabbis have raised more than $10,000 since 27 to feed a community of malnourished Ugandan Jews.
More startlingly, said Meghann Schwartz, associate director for the Federation, was that the fundraiser’s $10,000 goal was met in only five-and-a-half days after it started.
Many residents of Howard County did not even know Uganda had a Jewish community, Schwartz said, but once they heard the Abayudaya’s plight, they got to work.
“The first kind of response we got was people had no idea,” Schwartz said. “As soon as we were able to provide an opportunity to help, people came running.”
The Abayudaya — meaning “people of Judah” — are approximately 2,000 in number and have been practicing Judaism since the early 1900s in rural Uganda. Many only eat one meal a day, and feeding a family costs $35 per day, according to a Federation news release.
The Abayudaya’s religious leader, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, studied with Rabbi Craig Axler of Temple Isaiah, a local synagogue.
A member of the community, Aaron Kintu Moses, spoke at Beth Israel Congregation in Owings Mills last month. He was raising funds for his Hadassah Primary School.
In the past, the Federation has raised funds for worthy causes in places such as Israel and Ukraine, among others. To date, the program has raised close to $12,000 to feed the community, and the fundraiser will remain open until Aug. 31.
“Part of our mission is also to help our fellow Jews across the world,” said Hanni Werner, marketing and communications associate for the Federation. “This was another opportunity to do that for Jews who were literally starving.”
James Whitlow is an intern at the Baltimore Jewish Times.