Statement on the Matter of Emerging Communities


On June 26, 2018, The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors, of which USCJ CEO Rabbi Steven Wernick is a member, released the following statement affirming its support of emerging Jewish communities, including, but not limited to, the Abayudaya community in Uganda.

Official statement on the matter of emerging communities presented to The Jewish Agency Board of Governors

Dr. David Breakstone, Deputy Chair of The Jewish Agency Executive, June 26, 2018 

There are an ever-growing number of emerging Jewish communities around the world (an emerging community being understood as one in which the entirety of the founding members of the community is made up of Jews of choice rather than Jews by birth) whose members are experiencing difficulties in terms of being recognized as Jews in accordance with the Law of Return.

As the Jewish Agency is concerned with safeguarding the rights of every Jew everywhere, and as the root cause of the difficulties mentioned is the absence of clear criteria regarding the definition and status of such communities which is presently preventing hundreds of potential program participants and olim from entering Israel, the chairman of the executive will communicate to the relevant government offices that these issues are of urgent concern to The Jewish Agency Board of Governors, and will propose the establishment of a joint committee of The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of the Interior to resolve the matter while maintaining  The Jewish Agency’s government-granted authority to recognize the authenticity of Jewish communities abroad.

In the meantime, The Jewish Agency will continue to support the rights to which the Abayudaya, and members of any and all communities it recognizes, are entitled vis a vis the Law of Return, entry to Israel and participation in Israel programs.

The Abayudaya community had been cruelly persecuted under Idi Amin in the 70’s, for no other reason than their identification as Jews. This  fact has gone unacknowledged in the Jewish world. Therefore, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency will submit a proposal for an appropriate commemoration of the victims of this persecution. 

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