In his last blog, Charles Lon­don talked about a col­lect­ed Jew­ish muse­um.

The Jerusalem Post has pub­lished a report, unsur­pris­ing to any­one who has spent time with the Abayu­daya com­mu­ni­ty in Ugan­da, that Israel is send­ing a Jew­ish response to the famine wreak­ing hav­oc in north­ern Uganda.

As the arti­cle says, Uganda’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty has mobi­lized like few oth­ers to fight the famine.” While Israel will still not offi­cial­ly rec­og­nize the Abayu­daya as Jews, they are demon­strat­ing the best of Jew­ish values.

For sev­er­al years, the Jews of Ugan­da faced threats of vio­lence, oppres­sion, and iso­la­tion if they lived open­ly as Jews. In the last 30 years, they had to fight their neigh­bors and the gov­ern­ment to regain their own tiny patch of land, but they have turned that strug­gle into pros­per­i­ty — open­ing a clin­ic and a vari­ety of com­mu­ni­ty insti­tu­tions, and turn­ing their for­mer ene­mies into allies, in an attempt to lift every­one up from pover­ty and mistrust.

I saw this life-sav­ing spir­it last year when I spent time with the Abayu­daya, who are most­ly sub­sis­tence farm­ers liv­ing in the hills out­side of Mbale in east­ern Ugan­da. They had start­ed an inter­faith, fair-trade, peace-cen­tered cof­fee grow­ers coop­er­a­tive, called Mirem­be Kawom­era, which means Deli­cious Peace” and that pro­motes sus­tain­able farm­ing and inter­faith cooperation.

In recent years, they have been hav­ing amaz­ing suc­cess. While I was there, I heard tales of oth­er com­mu­ni­ties wit­ness­ing the rebirth of the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty — which, like so much in Ugan­da had been under­ground dur­ing Idi Amin’s rule — and try­ing to learn more about Judaism and Jew­ish his­to­ry. This inter­est comes from the sim­ple fact that where the Jews of Ugan­da live, they try to bring pros­per­i­ty for their neighbors.

I went into a class­room at Hadas­sah Pri­ma­ry School, a school run by the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty for stu­dents of all faiths. When I tried to get a sense of the diver­si­ty of the class­room, the stu­dents all made a point of telling me, we are all Ugandan.”

This sim­ple state­ment from a group of smil­ing Mus­lim, Chris­t­ian, Jew­ish, and ani­mist stu­dents filled me with admi­ra­tion. On a con­ti­nent where too often eth­nic diver­si­ty has been exploit­ed to tear soci­eties apart for polit­i­cal gain, the Jews of Ugan­da are using dif­fer­ence to pro­mote tol­er­ance, mutu­al respect, pros­per­i­ty, and unity.

Though they are offi­cial­ly con­verts to Judaism, there is a deep-seat­ed his­tor­i­cal basis for the mul­ti­plic­i­ty of iden­ti­ty that the Ugan­dan Jews are liv­ing out. Our long Dias­po­ra has taught us how to inhab­it mul­ti­ple spaces — nation­al, spir­i­tu­al, phys­i­cal, and polit­i­cal — in cre­ative and pro­duc­tive ways. Any doubt that the Abayu­daya are authen­tic Jews should be put to rest by the sim­ple fact that they are liv­ing and shar­ing Jew­ish val­ues every day in those dusty hills in east Africa. They are an amaz­ing com­mu­ni­ty, and one, which should be wel­comed and cel­e­brat­ed in rich ecosys­tem of glob­al Jewry.

Charles Lon­don, the author of One Day the Sol­diers Came: Voic­es of Chil­dren in War and the just-released Far from Zion: In Search of a Glob­al Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty, is guest-blog­ging for MyJew­ish­Learn­ing and the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil. Vis­it Far From Zion, his offi­cial website.