Hanukkah celebration brings together Jews from around the globe
SAN FRANCISCO — A Hanukkah celebration Sunday brought together Jews from different ethnic backgrounds throughout the San Francisco Bay area and abroad, including members of Jewish communities from Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa.
The Jewish Festival of Lights celebration at the Presidio’s Officer’s Club took on a truly international flavor as two members of the Abayudaya community of Uganda joined in the festivities, which included craftmaking, the lighting of candles and lots of music and dancing.
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu traveled from Uganda where he lives near the Moses Synagogue, built by himself and others in the community of 600 Jews during an early 1980s Kibbutz movement.
His community strives to become part of the larger international Jewish community, seen often through the eyes of its European practitioners, Sizomu said.
“I feel that there is a very strong connection despite the differences in the dress, the differences in color and language,” Sizomu said. “We have one common cause — the Torah.”
“Judaism is becoming a religion for all people,” Sizomu said, surveying those in attendance around him.
Moments later, he took to the dance floor with about 50 others and smiled as they taught him the Electric Slide, a group line dance popular at weddings and other social occasions.
Gary Tobin’s organization, the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, hosted the event to bring together Asian-America, black, American Indian and African Jewish community members.
Tobin said he hopes to expand the Jewish community’s boundaries of how it defines itself by bringing together Jews from such diverse backgrounds.
“It’s a necessity for the Jewish people to reflect the world around them and the world around them is largely black, Asian and Latino,” Tobin said.
He also saw the event as a bit of a living history lesson about the beginnings of Judaism.
“This is really what the Jewish community has looked like over the past 1,000 years,” Tobin said.
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