Rabbi Shoshana Nambi

Meet our new Student Rabbi

Shalom NFRS,

My name is Shoshana Nambi.  I am so excited that I will be spending my third year of rabbinical school getting to know you, learning and growing with you in your amazing community. This was explained to me by my friend Danielle Weisbrot, your former student rabbi. I’m grateful to be one of the beneficiaries of the ongoing NFRS partnership with Hebrew Union College to help train future Jewish leaders.

Let me tell you a little about my background.  I grew up with my grandparents and two brothers in a village outside of Mbale town in the eastern part of Uganda, where the majority of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda live. We are agricultural people, growing maize, beans, nuts, and yams and raising chickens and goats for food. We also grew coffee to sell. When not in the garden, or at school, I was at the nearby synagogue. My brothers and I spent a considerable amount of time with our friends at the synagogue, which was also the community center, learning  Hebrew songs and prayers and welcoming Jews who came from different corners of the world with songs and plays. One of my earliest childhood memories is of my community leaders going around to its members’ homes to collect paraffin lamps so as to have enough light to celebrate Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. As I followed my grandmother around while she cleaned and made our lamp ready for pick up, I was filled with joy looking forward to putting on my best dress made of material left from my grandmother’s dress to go for services; we matched every Shabbat 🙂

Many years later, I have been fortunate to live in Israel for two years and now in New York with my eleven-year-old daughter, Emunah, creating more memories, and learning and being a part of different Jewish communities. Most importantly, I am on my way to becoming a Jewish leader myself, just like the leaders I admired growing up.

As I write this with great joy and excitement, I also acknowledge that it’s such a scary and challenging time, one filled with uncertainties from COVID 19, and the injustices that have affected all of us in one way or the other. I have, however, been comforted by the courage and support that we have shown for each other across communities, religions, and races, and the ways in which we have managed to stay connected even when physically separated. We have played, prayed, and healed together and we continue to do so. As Rabbi Menachem Creditor reminds us through his song “Olam Chesed Yibaneh” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8keJKyL-40A, we must build this world in love, then God will build this world in love.

I’m looking forward to meeting you all soon, if not physically yet, then virtually.