Growing up in Uganda, Shoshana Nambi was active in her small Jewish community. She taught songs and the Torah portion to younger children and was a member of her community’s youth group. Learning Hebrew also seemed to come easily. So it seemed obvious to her that she would consider becoming a rabbi.
Shoshana is currently in her third year of studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform movement’s seminary and is a Student Rabbi at North Reform Synagogue in Cutchogue, New York.
The Ugandan Jewish community, which is called the Abayudaya, traces its roots to the early 20th century, when a former leader read the Bible and embraced Judaism. Most of the community’s 2,000 members were converted under the auspices of U.S. Conservative rabbis in the early 2000s and thus are not recognized as Jewish by Israel’s Orthodox Chief Rabbinate. Nambi says her grandparents started practicing Judaism, and her immediate family has been doing so ever since.
She hopes to return to her community one day and serve as a role model for other women and girls, but anticipates that she won’t be able to do so in the near future.
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