Yehudah Kimani, left, has utilized Facebook to reach out to Jews around the world. The self-taught social media maven, pictured here on October 4, 2015, hopes to offer computer classes to Jewish and non-Jewish children in his rural Kenyan village. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
Kenya Jewish leader denied entry to Israel, deported to Ethiopia
A Kenyan Jewish leader who arrived in Israel on Monday night was denied entry into the country by the Interior Ministry and deported to Ethiopia.
The rejection by Israeli authorities of Yehudah Kimani — who had come to the Jewish state for a three-week study program — was seen by activists as part of the ongoing discrimination by Israel against Jews from emerging communities around the world.
Kimani, 31, is a leader of the 50-member Kehilat Kasuku, a small group of families in Kenya’s rural highlands who decided to leave Messianic Judaism in the early 2000s.
In the ensuing years, they have undergone Conservative Jewish conversions in Uganda with the Abayudaya community. They celebrate Shabbat and the Jewish holidays in a small, plastic-sheeting covered synagogue with worn wooden benches. Over the past few years since The Times of Israel first visited in early 2015, Kimani has utilized Facebook to build relationships with Jews around the world. The networking brought him on a multi-month trip to the United States in the summer of 2016 with Kulanu, when he also studied at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute.
Justin Philips, a retired judge who sits on the board of the Conservative Movement’s Fuchsberg Center, invited Kimani as a guest to study at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem for a short program. After Kimani’s first visa application was denied, he was able to obtain a visa on his second attempt, in time for the Conservative Yeshiva’s winter break program.READ MORE