Jewish Missions to Cuba

I did not realize how much I knew about Cuba till I actually visited the island. Growing up in Argentina, I had always heard about Che Guevara, the Argentinean doctor who played a key role in the Cuban Revolution. The music of my adolescence were the songs by Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés, representatives of the “Nueva Trova Cubana”. Of course I learned about the Saint-Louis while at school, Meyer Lanski while at the cinema and pirates while reading storybooks as a child.

Speaking the same language gave me the opportunity to learn more. Cubans are quite talkative and open, so I could ask them about pretty much everything, including how they live and how they would like to live.

But my trip was about visiting the Jewish community in Cuba. Coming from a Latin-American country myself, and having experienced the ups and downs of the economy in my country, and especially the consequences of the downs, personally, and as a part of the Jewish community, I thought I knew about lack of resources. We Argentineans sometimes think of ourselves as champions of using our creativity to “make-do with what we have.” However, I discovered that the Cubans had brought this talent to an artform.

An Israeli comedian once said: “We Jews do not complain when we’re suffering, but rather suffer when we don’t complain.”

I realized when I met the wonderful people of the Jewish community in Cuba that the comedian’s comment did not apply. I understood what it really meant to lack resources and to make something out of nothing. I was touched, moved and inspired by these people who chose to stay in Cuba and celebrate their Jewish Heritage despite hardship.

The Jewish Mission to Cuba is not only about visiting the institutions and synagogues like Patronato, Beth Shalom and Centro Sefaradi in Havana. This tour will offer you a meaningful and personal exchange with the Cuban Jewish community. 
You will learn about the rich History and heritage of Jews in Cuba and share Shabbat services and chessed activities with the local congregations.

Nowadays about 1,300 Jews live in Cuba; 1,000 reside in Havana, and the remaining 300 are spread among the provinces.

Enjoy the opportunity of discovering this fascinating country. Remember that Cuba is changing. The time for visiting Cuba is now.

Valeria Duek