News From Cuba

Contributed by Mat Sgan

Hi Sofers,

I traveled to Cuba under auspices of Cornell’s Adult University for eight days recently and want to share a few items that might be of interest.

  1. Terrific lectures featuring a background of Cuba. Three stages identified:
    • 1519-1898 Spanish Period
    • 1898-1902 Cuban-Spanish War (America joined on Cuba side late, but still got the title-‘Spanish-American’ war.
    • 1902-1959 American Period.
    • 1960-Present Revolutionary Period
  2. Jews numbered 15,000 before the 1960 Revolution. Now 1500. Conservative Synagogue is poor but active – 50 children in Sunday school. Ninety people at Shabbat services. Nice building built in better economic times before the revolution.
  3. Pull out of Soviet Union in 1990-1992 was devastating to the economy.
  4. U.S. Embargo is really hurting Cuban people.
  5. No drugs (apparent) and very little crime due to tough government controls.

Cuban people are warm and friendly. If you get a chance and don’t mind a large slice of deprivation from your usual comforts and conveniences (even paper of all sorts is hard to obtain), you should go!

Shaloha,
Mat Sgan

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