Many people do not know that Havana has a small Jewish community. On a recent trip to Cuba, we visited the orthodox synagogue in Havana. We did a tour and the president explained to us the history of the Jewish people in Cuba. We made a financial donation and gave much needed humanitarian aid. We returned for the Friday evening Sabbath Service and dinner afterward.
Sitting across the table from me was a young man about 30 years old who participated in the Maccabi Games in Israel (Jewish Olympics) a few years ago. I explained to him that I was the USA head coach for baseball in 2001. He got excited and asked me if I would come on Saturday to meet with the Director of Sport for the Jewish community in Cuba and also the President of the Jewish community for the nation of Cuba at the conservative synagogue in Havana. At the Saturday morning Sabbath service, I was asked to recite special prayers prior to reading from the Torah scroll. After lunch, I met my new friend at the conservative congregation and was introduced to the Director of Maccabi Sports and the President of the Jewish community in Cuba.
Cuban Jews were very openhearted. I was asked to bring a men’s softball team to Cuba to get the Cuban Jewish team ready for the Maccabi Games in Israel. Next time we come we need to bring some humanitarian aid and continue to foster goodwill in the Cuban Jewish community.