On one of my trips to Uganda Dr. Scott Calig, a member of Temple Aliyah, gave me a centrifuge to bring to the newly built Tobin clinic in Mbale—built by the Jewish community and serving the entire community of Mbale. The clinic said that they needed a centrifuge, so Scott and his wife Holly, graciously donated one. I carried it in my suitcase (it was pretty heavy, but my back was good back then). It is still working perfectly 10 years later and has been an important tool to diagnose disease and save peoples lives. I am so proud to have been part of that process, and so very proud of our wonderful Dr. Scott and Holly Calig, who are always so generous in spirit and delightful to be around.
There is a young woman who works at the clinic’s birthing center, called the Puah and Shirfrah Birthing Clinic at the Tobin facility. Her name is Susan. When I was in Uganda many years ago, she was ill and had to have dialysis. I was carrying donations from our shul and had the exact amount of money that was needed for her treatment. She told me yesterday that the dialysis saved her life. Today she has three beautiful children
and is a vibrant member of the Abayudaya community. Her sisters, Bina and Boya, Dafnah and Igaal Sizomu recalled with genuine love and heartfelt words the times that I visited them through the years and sang songs that they never ever forgot—including I’m So Happy, Today is Shabbat! I recall them dancing in the small living smiling and laughing. One of things that make life so meaningful.
Speaking of meaningful, after davening a beautiful fusion shaharit (morning service) filled with Ashkenazi and Abayudaya music. We realized that today was the World Wide Wrap—a day that Conservative Jews from all over the world celebrate the mitzvah of tefillin. And there we were in Africa!!!!! How perfect.
Then we presented a Torah to the community, brought by Cantor Jerry Berkowitz from Milwaukee. We marched the Torah under the chuppah from the guest house to the synagogue where the new Torah met the other sifrei Torah and kissed each other under the chutzpah. We marched in to the sanctuary singing an Abayauday melody for Psalm 24 and after reading from the new Torah parshat Ha’azinu first in Hebrew and then in the very first Abayudaya melody ever composed in Luganda, the local language.
After that, we presented our other gifts both religious and ritual objects and musical instruments. I was proud to present a trombone, trumpet and violin, all donated by Jeff Goldsmith owner of West Valley Music who always is so generous to all communities.
Have an easy late afternoon and evening and maybe a chance to catch up on rest.