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Howard County-based campaign to feed starving Jews in Uganda exceeds $20,000

A month after launching their campaign to feed a small group of Jews in Uganda, known as the Abayudaya, the Howard County Jewish community raised nearly $21,000 — more than doubling their initial goal — which will feed the Ugandan Jewish people and their Christian and Muslim neighbors for two days.

The Jewish Federation of Howard County and the Howard County Board of Rabbis started the campaign in mid-August after learning about famine in East Africa, affecting those in Uganda, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan. The Abayudaya, who have practiced Judaism since the early 1900s, translates to “people of Judah” and consists of 2,000 Uganda Jews.

Campaign donations poured in from all over the county, said Ralph Grunewald, the interim executive director at the Jewish Federation of Howard County. Funds were then distributed by the Jewish Coalition for East Africa Relief and Be'chol Lashon, a Jewish advocacy organization, purchased the food.

The Abayudaya community received maize flour, known as “posho,” he said, and money will also be used to make improvements to agricultural practices and food management in the future.

“This emergency campaign underscore’s the federation’s key role in bringing the local community together, not only in times of need, but day-in and day-out,” Grunewald said.

Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, leader of the Abayudaya and a Ugandan Parliament member, said in a press release that he was appreciative of the outpouring of support.

“I couldn't be more grateful for the support of the Jewish community in this time of need, especially for at-risk populations, including the elderly and children,” Sizomu said in a press release provided by the Jewish Federation of Howard County.

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