212-870-5880 The Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel foundation@masorti.org

This is the Israel we all dream of–the Israel that is true to our highest hopes, ideals and aspirations–democratic, inclusive, respectful of tradition and comfortable with modernity.  For the first time ever, the Birthright Israel program was opened to the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda, in part due to the efforts of Masorti and MAROM Olami.  From their arrival at the airport, to the shachrit service at Ezrat Israel, the Abayudaya community experienced the welcoming warmth of Masorti.

The Israeli leadership of the Masorti movement and it young adult arm, MAROM, join their fellow Jews of the Abayudaya delegation in celebrating–with song and dance–the march to Ezrat Israel, the egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel.  At the end of march, a Hachnasaat Sefer Torah, a dedication of a Torah donated by Temple Beth Am, in Margate, Florida, was held at Ezrat  Israel.

Twenty-three year-old student, Isaac Wamani, was one of the participants and as first reported in Haaretz, he said:  “Ever since I was 16,  I dreamed of making this trip…and now that I’m here, I feel so connected to this place. I actually cried when I first saw the Western Wall.

We are so proud that Masorti helped make this dream come true.  You can see the full-length video of the service here.

For more background of the story of the Abayudaya Jews and their Birthright experiences at the Kotel, read this from the Times of Israel. The TOI article also recounts the story of Yosef Kibita, an Abayudaya Jew living on a kibbutz who has been denied recognition as  a Jew by the Interior Ministry.  According to the TOI:  “As of now, Yosef is still petitioning to be recognized as Jewish by the state, and the High Court has issued a temporary injunction against deporting Yosef, whose visa has since expired.”  Masorti will be closely following this story and will continue advocating on behalf of Yosef Kibita.