By Ruth Behar
Yiddish-speaking Jews inspiration Cuba used to be imagined to be an insignificant layover at the trip to the us once they arrived within the island state 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 loved island ceased to be a lodge, and Cuba finally grew to become “home.” yet after Fidel Castro got here to strength 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 used to be stuck up within the Jewish exodus from Cuba. turning out to be up within the usa, she questioned concerning 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 used to be caring for this legacy? What Jewish stories had controlled to outlive the years of progressive atheism?
An Island referred to as Home is the tale of Behar’s trip again to the island to discover solutions to those questions. in contrast to the unique photograph projected by means of the yankee media, Behar uncovers an aspect of Cuban Jews that's poignant and private. Her relocating vignettes of the members she meets are coupled with the delicate pictures of Havana-based photographer Humberto Mayol, who traveled with her.
jointly, Behar’s poetic and compassionate prose and Mayol’s shadowy and riveting photos 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 venture of retaining alive the flame of Jewish reminiscence in Cuba.
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Extra info for An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba
And yet even with many eyes gazing at them, the Jews of Cuba remain mysterious. I have spent fifteen years catching glimpses of their lives and still can’t claim I fully know them. But to speak of “the Jews of Cuba” is ostentatious, for the community is miniature and in continual flux. No matter how many people die or leave the island, somehow there are always a thousand Jews in Cuba (or some like to say fifteen hundred). The number seems to have been arrived at kabbalistically and neither death nor diaspora changes anything.
I missed the sense of life lived on the edge. I missed how my pulse raced. Not that it was easy to go to Cuba. Every couple of months I put myself through a grueling amount of paperwork just to be able to be back on the island for fourteen days. Since I was born in Cuba, each time I returned I had to request special permission from Cuban immigration to revisit the island. qxd:Behar design 7/30/07 2:14 PM Page 18 An Island Called Home may be an American citizen, but the Cuban government still considers me a Cuban.
May the Lord see fit to shine upon my fate, And join us once again, beyond, in death! Your Salomón [Salomón Barlía] Such an elaborate tombstone, I assumed, was the handiwork of a Jew who had left Cuba. Little did I know that the story behind it was waiting for me inside Cuba . . several years into the future, several return trips later. .
An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba by Ruth Behar