CBJ Goes to Cuba

Our intrepid travelers have arrived in Havana!

Our intrepid travelers are in Havana!

Jackie and Steve Dines are keeping a blog that they are thrilled to share with you.

Want to see ALL their pictures?

Join the group ‘CBJ Cuba Trip Photos’ on Cluster:
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Updated November 2

The final shul visit of our trip.

Visited the Havana orthodox shul – we had donated our shoes at the start of the trip – this was a visit to the Shul – we met Yakob again together with the president of the shul

They have around 350 members – down from 2000 pre-revolution

We were thanked for the shoes – and apparently we had 82 satisfied customers!

havana-synagogue havana-synagogue2

Visit to Hemingway House

hemingway-house

An “off the beaten track moment”. Monday noon – we visited the Holocaust memorial in Santa Clara – built in 2003  with donations from Washington DC

The cemetary was padlocked but the locals broke the lock off for us!

Afterwards we decided to donate a bunch of stuff to the villagers

cuba-holocaust-memorial

We spent an hour with Rebecca Langus and her two sons David and Danny at their house – which is also the shul for the five Jewish families that make up the Cienfuegos Jewish Community – Since the early 90’s Rebecca has worked to bring Jewish practice back to Cienfuegos – both David and Danny were barmitzvah and have visited Israel – David also went on March of the Living

They hold Shabbat services at the house – and they do this without a Rabbi (no rabbis in Cuba) and without a Sefer Torah – the closest Sefer Torah is 100km away in Santa Clara

Rebecca does have a comprehensive library

We donated medicines, Chanukah candles and other items

David is an artist and several of the travelers bought his pieces.

 

Updates October 31

Monsoon weather – so 10 of us took a cooking class – we cooked all out food and learned to make a mojito – I think the group has potential

cuba-cooking

 

We spent an hour with Rebecca Langus and her two sons David and Danny at their house – which is also the shul for the five Jewish families that make up the Cienfuegos Jewish Community – Since the early 90’s Rebecca has worked to bring Jewish practice back to Cienfuegos – both David and Danny were barmitzvah and have visited Israel – David also went on March of the Living

They hold Shabbat services at the house – and they do this without a Rabbi (no rabbis in Cuba) and without a Sefer Torah – the closest Sefer Torah is 100km away in Santa Clara

Rebecca does have a comprehensive library

We donated medicines, Chanukah candles and other items

David is an artist and several of the travelers bought his pieces

 

On our way to visit communities of Cienfuegos and Santa Clara – both are around 250km from Havana

Cienfuegos is a community of around 20 people

Santa Clara is a more distributed community of around 50 people

Neither community benefits from the Havana pharmacy at Patronato Shul so we will donate a portion of our medicines to both communities

cuba-group-2

Older Entries

 

Set out early Wednesday for Miami airport

Group check-in for Havana was really an ordeal – lots of excess baggage charges.
Plane was Eastern Airlines – yes they are still flying!

Arrived Havana mid afternoon – all of us got through customs easily apart from the Grubers – their luggage went missing – Joe must have told a joke to the luggage handlers.

Got to hotel and everybody disgorged 82 pairs of shoes from their luggage – and we presented them in 5 donated suitcases to Yacob Brezniak of Congregation Adath Israel – he asked for a photograph to “record this piece of history” – maybe not as many people as we suspected bring shoes?

cuba-shoes
Dinner was at a nice seashore restaurant – and then to bed.

Thursday was shul day – we visited centro Sephardi in the morning and Patronato in the afternoon – and donated a bunch of stuff including around $1000 of medicines.

 

cuba-medicine-delivery
Each shul gave us their version of Cuban Jewish History

Version 1  – Columbus was Jewish

Version 2 – at least some of his crew were

At Centro Sephardi we met two of the officers; Samuel  Zagovalov Montero and Simon Goldzstein. We invited Simon and his wife to dinner with the group.

At Patronato we met president Adela Dworin and also met with head of Hebrew school – we presented letters from our second grade kids and we were invited back Sunday morning to meet with the kids – alas we will be out of Havana – but they did promise to reply to letters and we gave them Rabbi Ilana’s contact info.

 

cuba-group

Jackie Dines