Faith, education cross cultures |

Faith, education cross cultures

Chadwick Bowman
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy of joyofcolor.comAaron Kintu Moses, a Jewish and educational leader in a community in Mbale, Uganda, reads to young children. He will speak at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Aspen Chapel.

ASPEN – A Jewish community and educational leader from Uganda will speak in Aspen on Monday, sharing his insight as to how a shared religion can span across a variety of cultures.

Aaron Kintu Moses’ presentation, set for 5:30 p.m. at Aspen Chapel, is part of his nationwide speaking tour. This is his third such tour in the U.S., which takes him coast to coast.

Kintu Moses is a leader of the Abayudaya Jewish community in Mbale, Uganda. He is also an accomplished musician and the director of education for two schools in Mbale.

The schools are for elementary and high school-aged children where students practice Christianity, Judaism and Islam together in peace. In total, the schools have 767 students and 36 teachers as well as volunteers who travel to Uganda from the U.S. and Canada.

Kintu Moses said the goal of his speaking tour is to explain the work they do and the hardships the region faces.

“What I have to do is make sure that my audience understands the community’s history and that people also understand that we have to help people come out of poverty,” Kintu Moses said.

Kintu Moses and the 1,000-member Abayudaya community partnered with Kulanu, a nonprofit organization based in New York that helps support isolated and practicing Jewish communities in many countries by providing resources for education and meals for the children.

“Here in the U.S. we take our Judaism for granted,” said Harriet Bograd, president of Kulanu. “For the most part, we have not encountered the obstacles the Abayudaya have confronted.”

The Abayudaya community faced intolerance and persecution for their Jewish identity under the repressive regime of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Bograd said that issues such as poverty, the lack of potable water and electricity are hardships most American Jews do not encounter.

Rabbi David Segal of the Aspen Jewish Congregation said Kintu Moses’ message defies the stereotype Americans have of Jews.

“[Kintu Moses] offers a very different window into being Jewish,” said Segal.

Kintu Moses said his goals are to make known the existence of the Abayudaya community and the history of Jewish people in Uganda.

“There are a lot of people who think that Jews are only white and in America,” Kintu Moses said. “Now they come to get to know that deep in Africa they can find Jewish people there.”

Segal also said that one part of the presentation he is looking forward to is Kintu Moses’ musical performance, which will feature traditional Jewish songs embedded with Ugandan rhythms and music.

“I will sing them a little bit of the music that we have in Uganda,” Kintu Moses said.

Bograd said that all profits from Kintu Moses’ speaking tour will go to support the Abayudaya community as well as the schools and feeding program. Bograd said that students used to come to school hungry before the assistance.

“The story of the Abayudaya is inspiring – one that most people in the U.S. do not know,” Bograd said. “The tour shows us that there are Jews in far corners of the world who value Judaism and who practice it with deep commitment.”

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