(*Please note that the new website of the Nairobi Hebrew Congregation was launched on January 31, 2011. Do visit the site at http://nairobisynagogue.org/ )
Shalom from Kenya.
To those of who are wondering, yes, I am safe and sound considering what has recently happened in neighboring Uganda.
I am currently with the HIAS Delegation from New York and we are supposed to travel to Kampala on Thursday, though this is still to be determined.
In other news, today I would like to share with you some photographs of the Nairobi Synagogue, and highlight the Szlapak Family, one of the oldest Jewish families in Kenya (and owner of the beautiful Fairview Hotel here in Nairobi-http://www.fairviewkenya.com/).
The Jewish community in Kenya was established in 1904, and the community is a microcosm of the Jewish Diaspora. Some of the members are newcomers living temporarily in Kenya, while others have lived here for many years.
The synagogue grounds are magnificent with lush gardens and a Communal Hall for social and cultural events.
It is also the only place to buy kosher meat in Nairobi.
The Nairobi Hebrew Congregation numbers have gone up and down, and is currently quite low.
I am impressed how a few members of the community continue to come every Shabbat just to make sure there is a minyan and to keep the Synagogue alive.
There has not been an active Rabbi since 1987, though I was lucky enough this past Shabbat to meet the last acting Rabbi Ze’ev Amit, active from 1983-1987.
The picture below is of Rabbi Ze’ev Amit and Charles Szlapak meeting with our delegation on Monday, July 12th.
The Szlapak family arrived in Kenya from Poland in 1938 and has been here ever since. For a dozen years, Charles was Rosh Kehila, the name given to the Nairobi Congregation’s president.
Early this morning, Tuesday July 13th, Charles’s son, Aitan Szlapak, gives the HIAS delegation a tour of the Synagogue.
As you can see, there was a strong British colonial influence on the early days of the Nairobi Hebrew Congregation.
Again, I truly commend and personally thank the members of this congregation who keep the synagogue alive and allow me the honor to pray there every Shabbat.
If you find yourself in Nairobi, please do make sure you plan a visit.
Their website has not been updated in quite sometime, so I hope to help the congregation build a new website throughout my stay here in Nairobi and will be in touch with the updated details.