View our accessibility package Skip to the Main Content

About The Abayudaya:

The Abayudaya, whose tribal name means “people of Judah,” live in rural villages in eastern Uganda and trace their Jewish origins to the turn of the 20th century. The Abayudaya began their journey to Judaism under the leadership of Semei Kakungulu, a great warrior who introduced the Hebrew Bible to his community in 1919. The community grew to as large as 3,000 people before 1971, when Idi Amin Dada came to power and banned Jewish practice. The Amin years saw the near devastation of the community, shrinking to a few hundred that had to conceal their faith and worship secretly. After the fall of Amin in 1979, JJ Keki and his brother Gershom gathered together the remnants of the Abayudaya community through music. Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, now the leader of the growing community of over 1,500 Jews, is the first black rabbi in Sub-Saharan Africa. Music is central to the Abayudaya’s sense of community, family and faith. Their music is uniquely stunning, blending the rhythms and harmonies of African music with Jewish celebration and traditional Hebrew prayer. Their compelling repertoire is rooted in local Ugandan music and infused with rich choral singing, Afro-pop, and traditional drumming. Along with many other members of the community, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu and JJ Keki are the featured performers in the Smithsonian Folkways CD release Abayudaya: The Music of the Jews of Uganda, which was nominated for Best Traditional World Music Album at the 2005 Grammy Awards. In addition to a featured concert at the 2012 Ashkenaz Festival, Sizomu and Keki will talk about the fascinating history of their community, give an interactive presentation for kids/families, and will co-lead the Saturday evening Havdallah ceremony

The Abayudaya


The musical traditions of Uganda’s Jewish community presented by two of their musical and spiritual leaders, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu and JJ Keki.

Co-Presented with Annex Shul. Travel sponsored by Earl Gorman.

Harbourfront Centre  \  What's ON  \  What's On Calendar