Tags: africa

Yehudah Kimani on Israel Incident

Times of Israel:


'“When I heard that my case is being discussed in Knesset, it really showed me that I have something important to do in this world,” he said from his home in Kenya. “Now people know that there are Jews everywhere, there are Jews in Kenya. They are giving me a chance to be known and the community in Kenya a chance to be known.”

Still, Kimani noted that the attention paid to his case brought negative consequences as well , including doubts as to his Jewish identity.

Amos Arbel, the director of the ministry’s Population Registry and Status Department, called Kimani “a goy [gentile] from Kenya” and asked if Israel wanted “half of Africa to come to Israel.” Arbel stressed that the Interior Ministry did not recognize Kimani’s conversion, despite the fact that the Jewish Agency recognizes the Abayudaya of Uganda as Jewish who can immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. ...'

Yehudah Kimani's Aborted Israel Visit

My friend Yehudah Kimani wanted to visit Israel. The authorities had other ideas.


'Kimani belongs to the Abayudaya. He converted to Judaism in 2010 through the Conservative movement and became active in the rural mountain community where he lives. The community is recognized as Jewish by the Jewish Agency.

During the Knesset hearing, ministry official Amos Arbel explained that Kimani was expelled because he stated in his visa application that besides touring the country, he would also be studying at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Despite this, Kimani was issued with a visa that stated specifically on it that he would be visiting the Conservative Yeshiva. But Arbel said that Kimani nevertheless needed a student visa, not a tourist visa, which was why he was expelled.

And when questioned by committee chairman MK Avraham Neguise about the vagaries of the ministry bureaucracy, Arbel responded: “What do you mean that it was written on his visa that he was coming to study in yeshiva? Is he Jewish?” asked Arbel rhetorically. “Do you want half of Africa here?” Despite Arbel’s explanation, the ministry previously gave a different reason for expelling Kimani, stating to the press that the ministry was concerned that he would seek to illegally remain in the country beyond the time period allowed on his visa. ...'


'He spent a summer at the Brandeis Summer Institute in Los Angeles studying Judaism, and earlier this year he applied to study to study at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Kimani applied for a threemonth tourist visa through the consulate in Nairobi, while a prominent member of a Masorti (Conservative) synagogue in Jerusalem agreed to be his sponsor in Israel, signing a bank guarantee for his presence in the country and agreeing to cover all of his costs, including flight, housing and tuition.

The Interior Ministry, however, denied his visa request.

He reapplied in November, and following checks conducted by the Nairobi consulate, including confirming with the Conservative Yeshiva that Kimani had been accepted to study there, his visa application was approved.

Kimani’s visa was stuck into his passport and signed and stamped by the Israeli ambassador to Kenya. He flew to Israel on Monday and arrived in the evening.

Despite his valid visa, Kimani was detained by the border authorities and held at the airport until Tuesday morning, when he was expelled and deported to Ethiopia.

The Interior Ministry said Kimani’s second visa application had been “fraudulently obtained,” since he had not stated that his first application had been rejected, and there was “a concern he would remain [illegally]” in the country after his visa expired.

The Interior Ministry said his first application was rejected because there was a concern he would remain beyond the three-month duration of a tourist visa. But it refused to say why it thought this was a possibility. ...'

From Yehudah's Facebook page:

'No!would not have stay beyond the time/period limit on my visa and not only in Israel but to all others countries.i was not going to live in Israel either.I have a family and community back home who needed me back home for support and religious study acquired from the yeshivah.This article says it fully.Only God give honest judgements especially who is very righteous/Tzadik and who is much observant who will have more merits on Olam haba.All this is bringing encouragement,give strength and more hopes to keep going and Hakhadosh Baruch is watching.For those following and interested will keep you updated.
Thank you our supporters all over.'

For regular followers of my journal, you may remember that I had the honor and pleasure of being Yehudah's guest during my visit to East Africa in 2016, and was able to return the favor by hosting Yehudah during his visit to Portland a few months later. I am very sorry that he had such a poor welcome from the Israeli authorities, and pray that the issue may be resolved speedily so that he can visit Israel soon.

Kenya: Kehillat Kasuku Library

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the African Jewish communities of Kenya and Uganda [see my tag East Africa 2016 for more] and had the pleasure and honor of being the guest of Yehudah Kimani at his home in town, as well as visiting his parents (I'll never forget the food!) and their community in the highlands of Kenya.

I've just learned via Yehudah's Facebook page that the community has begun construction of a Jewish library, with the help of an anonymous donor in the USA (no, it wasn't me).

Yehudah reports:
Our newest libary project is on progress as the week starts up.When i met this wonderful person and the donor of this newest project in USA,I didn't know how much we could accomplish together until now making it happen.

This is very, very exciting. It's wonderful to see this remote and committed community get a building to house its library. (I might have contributed one or two books to their collection myself.) Please feel free to follow Yehudah on Twitter or LinkedIn:

And more about the community here:

And if you are able, please consider making a donation here:

Shadrach's wedding ...

... makes the New York Times.


'Seven years ago, Shadrach Mugoya Levi drove three hours from his rural village of Magada in the Namutumba District of Uganda to find a woman named Naomi. His friends had insisted he meet her. When he arrived at her house, her mother answered the door and said: “No, my daughter is too young.” ...

Mr. Levi, now 28, is the spiritual leader of the Namutumba Abayudaya, one of nine Jewish communities in Uganda that stem from the conversion roughly 100 years ago of a local leader called Semei Kakungulu, who then created a sect.

On Aug. 8, Gershom Sizomu, a rabbi from the nearby Jewish community at Nabugoye Hill in Mbale, and Yafa Chase, a rabbi from Granby, Mass., married the couple and four other Jewish couples before about 1,500 witnesses, including Abayudaya (the Ugandan term for Jewish people) from the nine communities. The event gathered politicians from the local council, government officials and family and friends of all five couples from throughout the country.

After meeting Ms. Namusoosa, Mr. Levi went to the United States for two years to earn money to pay the dowry promised to his future wife’s family by Ugandan social law. In 2015, he returned with enough that her parents approved.

“O.K.,” Ms. Namusoosa recalled. “I thought, ‘I will go. I love him.’” Because, she said, “He is caring.”'

Shadrach was kind enough to host me at his family compound in Namutumba when I visited East Africa last year. Mazal tov to Shadrach and Naomi.


Linkage 2017-09-18

Theory vs. the Jews: Michael Weingrad on Bruno Chaouat.
My friend Michael Weingrad reviews Bruno Chaouat’s book on postmodern, academic anti-Semitism.
'The answer to the book’s title is straightforward: No, Theory is not good for the Jews (or, for that matter, anyone who cares about intellectual and moral clarity). And, yes, there are probably better ways to spend one’s life than marinating in postmodernism’s silly conceits and tin-eared jargon. And yet, if Chaouat hesitates to draw such un-ambiguous conclusions he has nevertheless performed a service here by chronicling a range of Theory’s recent intellectual and moral failures and how they continue to revolve around Jews, the Holocaust, and the State of Israel. This is worth knowing about since, to adapt Trotsky’s warning, Jews may not be interested in Theory, but Theory is very interested in Jews. ...'

Africa / India / Israel: Devsena Mishra in JPost.
'... Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Africa has 60% of the world’s arable land reserves. The combination of Israeli innovation/conceptual abilities and India’s “collective effort, inclusive growth” approach can provide the right direction to sustainable development efforts in Africa. Clean and renewable energy, healthcare, agriculture and rural development, vocational/technical education, and entrepreneurship promotion are some of the key areas where India and Israel need to collaborate for a better future for Africa.'

Masoud Barzani on Kurdish Independence Referendum: Rudaw
'Amid numerous calls to postpone next week’s independence referendum and focus on discussions with Baghdad, President Masoud Barzani told a visiting British minister that they will not postpone the referendum without commitment from Baghdad to begin independence negotiations, with international guarantees that agreements will be enforced. ... “[T]he referendum will not be delayed only for the sake of holding talks with Baghdad without knowing the content of these talks or knowing what international guarantees they will have,” the Kurdish statement read.'