In Secret Sisterhood

Just outside Mbale, Uganda’s third-largest city, a Jewish community called the Abayudaya lives secretly, hiding its traditional Jewish practice from its neighbors. Contact with other Jews is difficult, as is marrying within the faith. As Kenny Schultz, who twice visited the Abayudaya, reported for Kulanu, the women of the community’ tend to marry “out” more often than the men. “It was especially gratifying,” he writes, “to witness . . . two women who read their aliyot in English. Last year, the women primarily sat in the corner and said nothing. I realized, then, that part of the reason the women were fleeing from the Abayudaya community was because they lacked a religious identity. Without inclusion in the service and in the development of the community, Judaism represented no more than a strange word.”

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