By Ruth Behar
Yiddish-speaking Jews suggestion Cuba used to be speculated to be a trifling layover at the trip to the U.S. once they arrived within the island nation within the 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 finally grew to become “home.” yet after Fidel Castro got here to energy in 1959, nearly all of the Jews antagonistic his communist regime and left in a mass exodus. notwithstanding they remade their lives within the usa, they mourned the lack of the Jewish neighborhood they'd equipped at the island.
As a baby of 5, Ruth Behar was once stuck up within the Jewish exodus from Cuba. becoming up within the usa, she questioned in regards to the Jews who stayed in 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 used to be 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 photo projected through the yankee media, Behar uncovers a facet of Cuban Jews that's poignant and private. Her relocating vignettes of the members 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 pictures create an unforgettable portrait of a neighborhood that many have visible notwithstanding few have understood. This booklet is the 1st to teach either the energy and the heartbreak that lie at the back of the undertaking of maintaining alive the flame of Jewish reminiscence in Cuba.
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Extra info for An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba
The only word he feels should be used to describe the material help Jews receive in Cuba from their brethren is “tzedaka,” which means justice. . As a student of anthropology, I read many books about exotic people, but I never thought that “my people,” the Jews of Cuba, would come to be considered exotic. Initially, when I started spending time with Jews in Cuba in the early 1990s, there were no books or films about them, no photographs of them on web sites. 36 Several web sites now exist with up-to-the-minute accounts of Jewish life in Cuba and lists of what American Jews should bring to help Jews on the island.
I arrived in people’s apartments, houses, and offices, prayed with them in the temples, intruded upon them in the street, asking them to tell me what it meant to be Jewish in Cuba. And because I was afraid of forgetting, I brought along a photographer on my journey—to make sure that the Cuba I was seeing would still be with me when I said goodbye again. I knew that I returned to Cuba with a longing for memory and I worried about imposing that nostalgia on Jews in Cuba, until I discovered that they too longed for memory.
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 2:15 PM Page 41 Blessings for the Dead The doctors in Minnesota had predicted that in the final, and worst, stage of the illness Henry would be in pain, day and night.