A Rabbi’s Sermon About the Beit Din- Una historia desde el corazón de Africa.

Actualizado: 12 de ago de 2020


El siguiente texto en inglés lo escribió el rabino Scott Glass, quien durante 43 años fuera el líder espiritual de Temple Beth El en Ithaca, Nueva York, y me fue compartido para "Valija de Apócrifos" por medio de mi amigo el rabino Andrew Sacks, director del movimiento masortí (conservador) en Israel, a quien he tenido el gusto de conocer ya largos años. Comparto buena parte de las posturas del rabino Sacks con relación a los derechos de grupos no ortodoxos en Israel (conversiones, aloiya, matrimonios, divorcios, acceso al Muro de los Lamentos, etc). Puntualmente, la causa de la comunidad judia de Abayudaya, en Mbale, Uganda, es algo que une de corazón. Eventualmente, también estaré publicando en este blog mis artículos sobre el tema, la experiencia compartida con ellos durante Januká y ciertas situaciones complicadas que enfrenta esta comunidad en Israel. Tanto el rabino Glass como el rabino Sacks fueron parte de un famoso Bet Din que viajó a Uganda en 2002 a realizar procesos masivos de conversión a la comunidad de Abayudaya que el año pasado cumplió 100 años de vida judía. La siguiente es su historia e impresiones.




A Rabbi’s Sermon About the Beit Din

Nabugoye Hill Uganda

By Rabbi Scott Glass

I stood leaning against the eastern wall of the synagogue at Nabugoye Hill, listening intently as one of my colleagues began to read the Ketubah. It was, I think, the fifth of the weddings. Still, I was mesmerized by the flow of the service. Then came the line B’Minyan she’anu monin kahn biMbale Bimedinat Uganda, figuratively translated “according to the calendar here in Mbale, Uganda.” I shook my head in disbelief. Just then, I caught sight of the young man standing across from me, watching me carefully. Fearing that my reaction would be misunderstood, I crossed the room and said quietly, “You know, Samson, every time I hear those words “Mbale, Uganda,” I can hardly believe that I’m here. That’s why I was shaking my head.” He smiled and replied, “You’re right, Rahbee, it is a miracle.”





It has been a long road since I received the invitation in late November. I waivered for about a week and then, in early December, a group of us were invited to gather at the Cohen-Rosenthals’ for a healing service for Ed. He had asked me to organize the service but, of course, there were just a few things Ed wanted to do his way ; a reading, a song, a few words; That night, Ed said to us, among other things, “I wish you the blessing of fullness. I hope that you will all find ways to fill your lives meaningfully;”


It was, as my young friend, Samson, put it on that last day, a miracle; a miracle from God with a good deal of help from some remarkable people ; the Mitzvah heroes who made this mission possible, the sponsors and talented volunteers from Kulanu, my learned and gifted colleagues, and most of all, the incredible Abayudaya community who are a testimony to the triumph of faith and goodness in the world.

He wanted us to seize opportunities, take chances, live life to the fullest, just as he had. As he had so many times before, Ed inspired me. With his words ringing in my ears, I made the decision to embark on an adventure that would take me to Israel and then to Africa.


And the month just passed has been a month of miracles. I hardly know how to begin to talk to you about these past four weeks. There is so much to share. It has been an emotional roller coaster unlike any I’ve ever experienced.

But I will have many opportunities to speak to you. Amusing anecdotes will come to mind, occasions will serve to trigger wonderful, poignant recollections and you will hear a great deal more about this past month over the course of time. My trip to Israel at this critical juncture was one of the most important I’ve made in many years. The three days in Ethiopia at the end of this month were most significant as well, given the prevailing circumstances.


But it is the extraordinary experience of Uganda that was uniquely historic and therefore deserves immediate attention. No doubt, you will read, or maybe have already read, about this chapter in modern Jewish history. But given your generous support and enthusiastic encouragement of my participation, you deserve to learn about it directly from one of the participants.


My only hesitation stems from the fear that my words will not do justice to the experience. As I said to the members of the Abayudaya community before our departure: “From the first day, I came away with the feeling that I have been working 25 years to inspire my congregation to feel the way that you feel. I will not have words to convey to my community what I found here.”


That first day, Wednesday, February 5, I awoke to the sounds of dueling roosters and dogs barking outside the window of my room in the Mount Elgon Hotel. The night before, I had struggled with the mosquito netting and finally gave up, tying it back into the white cloud of a knot that hovered over my bed. Fortunately, as we would discover, in the dry season mosquitoes were scarce in Mbale. I went to the window and looked out at the well-kept yard of the hotel wondering what this day would bring. Many aspects of each day would be the same: the breakfast of pineapple, banana, dry toast and black coffee; the daily drive into the city for bottled water and fuel for the van; the long, bumpy drive past mud huts and brick hovels until we made that last turn up to Nabugoye Hill atop which sits the main synagogue of the Abayudaya community.


But that first day was different. Although I can only speak for myself, I suspect others felt as I did. In and around this third largest city in Uganda, what we saw were thousands of people living in abject poverty, and although perhaps 80% of the world’s population lives just that way, for many of us, it was our first up-close and personal exposure to their reality. One would have expected, then, the adults to seem downtrodden and depressed, the childre