Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

He Carries a Message of Peace through Song Musician from Uganda Visits Community Day School

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

He Carries a Message of Peace through Song Musician from Uganda Visits Community Day School

Article excerpt

As soon as Rabbi Donni Aaron began to strum her blue guitar, the students of Community Day School were restless.

The Jewish school students were gathered in the assembly just like any other Friday morning, to observe a public Shabbat - an observance and day of rest for practicing Jews.

The morning gathering typically includes prayers, stories and songs. But Friday, as music teacher Eileen Freedman stood with Rabbi Aaron at a table underneath a basketball hoop, she introduced a new guest: musician Rachman Nagwere, also known as Rachman Nachman.

Mr. Nagwere, 28, a practicing Jew in the Abayudaya community in eastern Uganda, made his first visit to an American Jewish day school Friday. He converted to Judaism in 2008 after having been raised as a Muslim in a country where being Jewish was not widely accepted.

After his mother died in 1996 and his father was confined to Kenya for political reasons, Mr. Nagwere said he was left without guidance.

"I really needed to be close to God," he said. While taking a walk one day, he stumbled across a Jewish school and found a place where he felt he fit in.

He had always been in love with music, but the Hebrew language and Hebrew music spoke to him in a new way.

Now, he doesn't sing without a message in mind.

Mr. Nagwere is in the United States primarily to attend a camp in mid-June at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute, which is an intensive course in Jewish culture and community, according to its website. For now, though, he is visiting friends in the U.S.

Following an initial prayer to welcome Shabbat, Mr. Nagwere and Ms. Freedman stepped to the front of the group to sing a Noam Katz song, "Mirembe, Salaam V'Shalom."

Mr. Nagwere, wearing a white Community Day T-shirt, moved with the guitar music played by Ms. Freedman and four drums played in the background by students.

Students sang along: "No matter the language, the future unsure, to all generations, make peace in the world."

When the song came to a close, Mr. Nagwere and Ms. Freedman high- fived to applause.

"Today, people think I was good," Mr. …

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