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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

November 4, 2016  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Pinellas-Pasco travelers deliver aid, support to Cuba’s Jewish community


The group visited the Finca Yoandra organic farm. From left to right, front row: Lynne and Fred Merriam, David and Melissa Bernstein, Sally Laufer, Jim and Linda Roberts, Jeanie and David Abelson, Nancy and Will Greenberg, Larry and Debbie Lieberman; Back row: Shane and Emilie Socash, Sivan Frank, Vivan Benci, Helaine and Zunya Solc, Renee and Tom Walter, Louis Orloff, Tracy Benstock, Lyle and Hana Cowart. Not pictured: Saul Lerner. The group visited the Finca Yoandra organic farm. From left to right, front row: Lynne and Fred Merriam, David and Melissa Bernstein, Sally Laufer, Jim and Linda Roberts, Jeanie and David Abelson, Nancy and Will Greenberg, Larry and Debbie Lieberman; Back row: Shane and Emilie Socash, Sivan Frank, Vivan Benci, Helaine and Zunya Solc, Renee and Tom Walter, Louis Orloff, Tracy Benstock, Lyle and Hana Cowart. Not pictured: Saul Lerner.

Twenty-six members of the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties delivered more than 500 pounds of aid to the Jewish community in Cuba during a five-day humanitarian visit to Cuba.

The travelers were largely comprised of medical professionals and the mission’s itinerary had a medical focus throughout.

Departing on Oct. 19, the group filled more than a dozen suitcases and boxes with supplies for the Jewish community, including diapers, children’s clothing, prescription and over-the-counter medicines, toiletries, adult clothing basics, medical supplies, and toys. These gifts were distributed across four community visits with the Santa Clara Jewish Community Synagogue, and in Havana at the Sephardic Center, the Orthodox synagogue Adat Israel, and the Patronato Jewish center.


Spiritual leader Jacob Berezniak speaks to the group about Adat Israel's Orthodox service. Spiritual leader Jacob Berezniak speaks to the group about Adat Israel's Orthodox service. It is estimated that about 1,200 Jews live in the Communist nation.

The trip, an effort some 10 months in planning, was co-chaired by Nancy and Will Greenberg, both of whom worked closely with David and Melissa Bernstein, co-chairs of the Federation’s Maimonides Society for the medical community.

The trip offered a full schedule of both Jewish and secular activities. The group visited Havana’s Jewish cemetery, attended Shabbat and Havdalah services at the Patronato, saw Havana’s kosher butcher, toured the Museum of the Revolution and fine arts museum, took a classic car ride and visited an organic farm.


Lyle and Hana Cowart, together with Emilie Socash, deliver gifts to the Sephardic Center Lyle and Hana Cowart, together with Emilie Socash, deliver gifts to the Sephardic Center “This mission was everything that we envisioned: our community members on the bus had an experience unlike any other and we had the chance to see the Jewish Cuban community up close,” said Nancy Greenberg.

On the final night of the trip, the group dined at a palador, a family-run restaurant sanctioned by the government. Such establishments are the Cuban government’s first instance of allowing private business.

At the dinner, David Bernstein spoke on impact the visit to Cuba had on him personally. “This trip has given us a window into a Jewish community that is surviving in such a state of flux. It’s incredible to see where our Federation support goes and we look forward to doing more for this community.” As the trip was concluding, Emily Socash, the Federation’s executive director, told the group that they would have the opportunity to select a project to fund in the Cuban Jewish community. Working through the Federation’s funding partner, the American Joint Distribution Committee, the project could range from transportation to youth programs to supporting the visiting rabbi from Argentina, she said.


David Bernstein (with suitcase) and Will Greenberg at Havana’s main synagogue. David Bernstein (with suitcase) and Will Greenberg at Havana’s main synagogue. The Federation hopes to plan a similar mission to explore the worldwide Jewish community and the local connection to it.

For more information about travel experiences with the Federation or the Maimonides Society, contact Socash at (727) 333-3101 or emilie@jewishpinellas.org.



At the Finca Yoandra organic farm, (L-R) the farmer’s daughter leads the group on a tour, including Nancy Greenberg, Melissa Bernstein and Saul Lerner. At the Finca Yoandra organic farm, (L-R) the farmer’s daughter leads the group on a tour, including Nancy Greenberg, Melissa Bernstein and Saul Lerner.

Linda and Jim Roberts at the Jerusalem Mosaic at the Santa Clara Jewish Synagogue Linda and Jim Roberts at the Jerusalem Mosaic at the Santa Clara Jewish Synagogue

Melissa and David Bernstein enjoy time at the Fuster House artistic compound. Melissa and David Bernstein enjoy time at the Fuster House artistic compound.

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