“It’s not always necessary to be strong, but to feel strong.” – Jon Krakauer
As you all know, I typically try to share something that connects us as sisterhood women. However, this Shabbat I would like to share with each of you a little bit about the Jewish communities in Cuba since we arrived on our WLCJ mission to Cuba. Each synagogue that we have visited, exemplifies the quote….each community is small, but mighty. They are proud to be Jewish, they feel strong in their beliefs and they are committed to providing a Jewish life for as many as they can.
We have visited two synagogues in Havana, Patronato and the Sephardic Center. Both of these synagogues welcomed our donations of money and items that we all brought with us….clothing, medical supplies and much more. But they shared with us what it means to be Jewish In Cuba…now, before the revolution and after the Soviet Union left. 90% of the Jewish community immigrated…leaving what is now an aging Jewish population. There are some children…and they provide schooling and celebrations of the holidays. It was interesting to learn, that at the beginning of the revolution when most private businesses were taken over, the only one that was allowed to remain was the kosher butcher..and today there is still a small kosher butcher in Havana, but the ration system allows for purchasing of two pounds per month. Both of the synagogues in Havana have pharmacies that dispense medications and medical supplies that are not available through the government run pharmacies. These pharmacies are there for the entire community.
We also were able to visit in the small synagogue in Santa Clara. It was housed in what used to be a home, that has been converted to a small synagogue with the most beautiful arc. It is a small community of about 20 people. From there we traveled to Cienfuegos where the Jewish community meets once a month in a home, filled with Judaica. They each have filled us with pride in knowing that we are able to help these small communities in some way.
I encourage each of you to watch for pictures on our Facebook page once we get back to the states, as internet is somewhat spotty.
We are all looking forward to spending Shabbat in Havana with both synagogues. Wishing each of you a meaningful and peaceful Shabbat. And please same a prayer for our family here in Cuba.