~ Cuba ~
American goyim in Jewish Cuba: Adventures in the land of Castro
I’ve wanted to go to Cuba since my college days in the early 60s. I was a budding journalist in high school, and went off to college in the fall of 1959 – nine months after Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Camilo Cienfuegos led the revolution that ousted dictator Fulgencio Batista from Cuba.
I quickly found a home on the Colorado Daily, the University of Colorado student newspaper. At the Daily, we covered Cuba as if it were a campus hot spot – we ran stories on agrarian reform, nationalization of businesses, the flight of the middle class to Florida, the U. S. trade embargo, the Bay of Pigs debacle, the missile crisis.
I dreamed of zipping off to Cuba to witness the results of the revolution for myself. No dice: when the U.S. slapped its embargo on Cuba in 1961, it forbade Americans from going there. Dream shattered.
Fast forward, 2012, my wife and I are in Miami International Airport, tickets for Havana in hand. We’re in a tour group of seven, bringing medicines to Jewish-sponsored clinics in Havana and Santa Clara. This blog charts the story of our tour:
We’re sightseeing in Havana. What’s this . . . a public park honoring John Lennon, complete with a life-sized bronze statue? Yep, that John Lennon, the Beatle (who’s music Fidel Castro condemned in the ’60.) Then there are the homages to Mother Russia’s Cuban years:...read more
So what are Cuban people like today? After a week’s tour I’m not in a position to make sweeping generalizations. I can at least offer a few experiences. Our previous blog, Cuba classic cars and the Havana Hustle, reflected our first encounters with Cubans on the...read more
Day one in downtown Havana: sightseeing here we come. I’m barely out of the van when a guy waves me over to a gorgeously restored Chevy: a ‘56 Bel Air sports sedan. “I give you a ride, señor!” He tries to push me inside. He’s in my face, and I scurry away. Another...read more
Cuba seems far removed from the horrors of Hitler’s Holocaust. But here in Havana, the synagogue Templo Sefaradi serves up an excellent exhibit that keeps those memories alive . . . and ties them directly to Cuba. The exhibit reminds us of the tragedy of 938 Jews who...read more
You won’t find Jewish Havana on the Cuban tourist circuit. It’s not even hinted at in Lonely Planet Cuba or Michelin’s Havana must-sees. No wonder: today, Cuba’s Jewish population is a tenth of what it was in 1959 – an estimated 1,500 (of which 1,100 live in Havana),...read more
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