By Ruth Behar
Yiddish-speaking Jews concept Cuba was once purported to be an insignificant layover at the trip to the us once they arrived within the island kingdom within the Nineteen Twenties. They even referred to as it “Hotel Cuba.” yet then the years handed, and the various Jews who got here there from Turkey, Poland, and war-torn Europe stayed in Cuba. The liked island ceased to be a resort, and Cuba ultimately turned “home.” yet after Fidel Castro got here to energy in 1959, nearly all of the Jews adverse his communist regime and left in a mass exodus. notwithstanding they remade their lives within the usa, they mourned the lack of the Jewish group that they had equipped at the island.
As a toddler of 5, Ruth Behar was once stuck up within the Jewish exodus from Cuba. starting to be up within the usa, she questioned in regards to the Jews who stayed at the back of. Who have been they and why had they stayed? What lines have been left of the Jewish presence, of the cemeteries, synagogues, and Torahs? Who was once taking good care of this legacy? What Jewish thoughts had controlled to outlive the years of progressive atheism?
An Island known as Home is the tale of Behar’s trip again to the island to discover solutions to those questions. not like the unique picture projected by means of the yank media, Behar uncovers an aspect of Cuban Jews that's poignant and private. Her relocating vignettes of the contributors she meets are coupled with the delicate images of Havana-based photographer Humberto Mayol, who traveled with her.
jointly, Behar’s poetic and compassionate prose and Mayol’s shadowy and riveting images create an unforgettable portrait of a neighborhood that many have obvious although few have understood. This booklet is the 1st to teach either the energy and the heartbreak that lie in the back of the undertaking of protecting alive the flame of Jewish reminiscence in Cuba.
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Extra resources for An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba
On the plane ride back, Zoila prayed for a crash, so as not to have to return to Cuba to face the extinction of her son from this earth. ” Moisés said, his voice breaking. But he didn’t weep. He was one of those who came into the world with tearless eyes. Moisés and Zoila bought Henry incredible gifts in his sunset days—a red English bicycle, an electric train that circled around their marble-tiled living room, and, most spectacular of all, a man-sized accordion, from which Henry coaxed sounds sweet as the aroma of frangipanis.
Qxd:Behar design 7/30/07 2:14 PM Page 28 An Island Called Home Jews in Cuba are children or grandchildren of Jewish men, the majority are converts. Many in the community are seeking to leave the country for Israel, which welcomes Cuban Jewish immigrants. Without realizing it, they are reenacting the “Hotel Cuba” scenario of an earlier generation by living physically in Cuba, but dreaming of being elsewhere, in a land of milk and honey. Finally, as my mother warned me, there are Jewish comunistas in the community, who identify as ethnically Jewish, but have nothing to do with synagogue or religious life.
20 By organizing themselves as missions, American Jewish groups avoided thinking of themselves as merely tourists, and gave meaning to their journeys to Cuba. 21 Conflicts have arisen over the meaning of Jewishness and the relationship between Jews in the diaspora and the State of Israel. For nearly two millennia Jews were a diasporic people, living in many lands, until 1900 when more than 80 percent of world Jewry lived in Europe. 26 In Cuba, American Jews can simultaneously hold on to the idea that Jews are “one people” and the opposite idea that Jews are a multicultural people making their home in many parts of the world.
An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba by Ruth Behar