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Haimish Havana

Thursday, October 13

HAVANA – A friendly welcome, a sense of joy, an air of need. This is what my granddaughter and I encountered on a recent visit to the largest synagogue in Cuba’s Jewish community, which once numbered 15,000 or more. But when Fidel Castro’s Revolution triumphed in 1959 and began confiscating businesses, most Jews fled. Today there are only 1,200, nearly all in Havana, where the main congregation is housed in this building with an impressive white front. There is a soaring arch, a Star of David and doors emblazoned with symbols of the Tribes of Israel.

Havana then and now: Visiting again

Thursday, October 13

It took less than an hour to get here from Miami, but the flight catapulted me 58 years back. In fact, I felt a tie to something even deeper in the mists of time.

I spent a day here when I was 14. My mother,  aunt, and I, who were visiting Miami Beach, flew over on Pan Am – $60 roundtrip each – to visit an Andover schoolmate whose father worked for United Fruit.

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