- CUBA, archipelago of islands consisting of Cuba, Isla de Pinos, and 1,600 smaller islands; population (2004) 11,300,000; Jewish population (2004) approximately 1,200. -The Colonial Period Columbus discovered Cuba during his first voyage (1492). His interpreter, luis de torres , was the first converted Jew to set foot in America. He was sent to explore the island and discovered the tobacco leaves smoked by the indigenous people. After the occupation of Cuba by Spain (1508–11), converted Jewish women were forcibly sent there as wives for the settlers. In 1518 the immigration of new christians to the Indies was banned, but the local authorities disregarded the new laws, since many of the colonists abandoned the Caribbeans for the rich empires in mexico and peru . Cuba became a marginal colony in the Spanish empire, growing cattle, tobacco, and sugar, and living on contraband trade. havana , however, was chosen as the assembly point of the treasure caravans on their way back to Spain, becoming a cosmopolitan port with merchants from different countries and different faiths. The local officials were more interested in their personal profits than in the economic interests of the Spanish crown, and overlooked the entrance of heretics. It is believed that Jews were present among the buccaneers that raided the island as well as among the merchants who traded with it. Groups of Jews fleeing from Dutch Brazil following the Portuguese reconquest (1654) settled in Cuba, concealing their religious identity. Cuban historians mention the presence of converted Jews among the early producers of sugar as well as among Spanish officials, but there is little evidence for the existence of crypto-jews , since there was no tribunal of the inquisition in Cuba. During the 16th century Cuba belonged to the jurisdiction of New Spain (Mexico), but in 1610 was transferred to that of the newly erected Inquisition in Cartagena (colombia ). At least 15 judaizers from Havana were sent to Cartagena for trial during the 17th and 18th centuries, the first being Francisco Gómez de León, whose death sentence in 1613 was commuted to life imprisonment. With time, however, the Crypto-Jews were totally assimilated into the Catholic population, leaving only sporadic memories of Jewish ancestry among the oligarchic families. The admission of Jews to Cuba was officially prohibited until the fall of the Spanish empire (1898). Nevertheless, a few Jews from the Caribbeans, especially Curaçao , settled in the island during the 19th century, concealing their Judaism. A few Jews were involved in Cuba's struggle for independence, such as Louis Schlesinger, a Hungarian Jew who participated in the military expedition of Narciso López (1851). According to Jewish sources (which are not accepted by Cuban historians), General Carlos Roloff, one of the heroes of the Ten Years War (1868–78), was a Polish Jew. José Martí, the greatest leader of the Cuban people, had a friendly attitude towards the Jews, which was manifested in his writings. His Revolutionary Cuban Party (1892) received contributions from the Jews in Key West (Florida). Joseph Steinberg was decorated as captain of the Cuban Army of Liberation and was among the first Jews who settled in Cuba after the Spanish-American War (1898). -The Republican Period (1902–1958) THE LEGAL STATUS The legal basis for Jewish existence was established under the U.S. Military Occupation (1898–1902), which granted freedom of religion and implemented the American immigration laws. The Cuban population was generally indifferent to religious questions and tended to identify the Church hierarchy with Spanish colonialism. The first constitution of the Republic (1902) introduced the principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state. Cuba maintained an open door immigration policy until the revolution of 1933, which adopted discriminatory legislation against aliens. The revolutionary government of Grau San Martín (1933) passed a law that at least 50% of the workers in each establishment must be Cuban natives and new jobs were to be given only to Cubans. The Law of Nationalization of Labor was included in the 1940 constitution and was the basis for Cuba's immigration policy during the Holocaust. Since only persons who could prove their financial independence were granted immigration visas, the admission of refugees was made possible only within the margins of the law, as tourists or passengers in transition. In April 1942 President Fulgencio Batista prohibited further immigration from Nazi-occupied countries, but granted the refugees who were already in Cuba the right of legal residence until the end of the war. By the end of World War II almost all the Jews who remained to live in Cuba had been naturalized, enjoying legal equality with the rest of the Cuban population. FORMATION AND INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT American Jews The first Jewish immigrants arrived in Cuba from the United States during the military occupation (1899–1902) and following the foundation of the Cuban Republic (1902). At that time American firms were deeply involved in the development of the sugar industry and in exporting consumer products to Cuba. A small group, of about 100 Jewish families, formed part of the large colony of American businessmen that was established in Cuba. In 1906 they founded the first Jewish organization – the United Hebrew Congregation (UHC) – with the objective of acquiring land for a Jewish cemetery. Among the founders were Maurice Schechter (a nephew of solomon schechter ), John Zoller and Louis Djurick (who were born in Romania), and Manuel Hadida (from Algiers). The UHC organized services for the High Holidays, and in the 1920s established a Reform synagogue. In 1917 the women founded the charitable Ezra Society, whose leading philanthropist was Jeanette Schechter. The American Jewish community, estimated in 1925 at around 300 persons, was mostly affluent, and charity was directed to less privileged groups, especially among the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. In 1927 the American Jewish women founded the Menorah Sisterhood as an auxiliary of the UHC, which was responsible for religious life and conducted a Sunday School. Sephardi Jews The sephardim , most of whom came from European Turkey, were the second Jewish group. Their immigration started prior to World War I and continued throughout the 1920s. Attracted by the Spanish language, which resembled their native ladino , they worked as itinerant peddlers selling their goods throughout the island, following the expansion of the sugar industry. In 1914 the Sephardi Jews established a community organization called Unión Hebrea Shevet Aḥim, with the objective of supplying all their religious and social needs. Among the founders were Moise Bensignor, Víctor Atún, and Samuel Amon. The Sephardim used the Jewish cemetery owned by the UHC, until they were able to purchase their own cemetery in 1942. Apart from that, there was little contact between these Jewish groups, who came from different backgrounds and belonged to different social strata. In 1918 Shevet Aḥim formed two auxiliaries: Bikkur Ḥolim, which cared for the sick and was responsible for burials, and the women's charity – La Buena Voluntad. Rabbi Guershon Maya, who immigrated from Silivri (Turkey), acted as the spiritual leader of the Sephardim (1923–52). Sephardi immigration increased after World War I, as a result of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The newcomers were assisted by Shevet Aḥim, as well as by informal Sephardi networks of social help, especially in the rural areas. During the 1920s several Sephardi communities were established in the provincial towns with local cemeteries and synagogues: Camagüey and Holguin (1921); Santiago de Cuba, Ciego de Avila, Camajuani, and Manzanillo (1924); Banes (1926); Matanzas (1928); Santa Clara, Colon, and Guantánamo (1929); and Artemisa (1930). In 1924 it was estimated that the Sephardim numbered 4,000 persons – 1,500 of them in Havana. Ashkenazi Jews The aftermath of World War I brought over to Cuba the third – and largest – Jewish group. Immigration from Eastern Europe began in 1920–21 as a result of restrictive U.S. immigration policy. Deluded by travel agents with the promise that subsequent voyage to the land of their dreams would be easy, immigrants viewed Cuba as a transit point on their way to the United States. Most of the immigrants who arrived between 1920 and 1923 had left Cuba by 1925. But as a result of the stiffening of U.S. immigration laws in 1924, thousands of immigrants found themselves compelled to stay in Cuba. It is estimated that between 1921 and 1930, 17,700 Jews from Eastern Europe entered Cuba, but only 50% remained on the island. The arrival of the destitute immigrants coincided with the collapse of sugar prices that shattered the Cuban economy. UHC and the Ezra Society did their utmost to supply food and shelter to their hungry and helpless Ashkenazi brethren, but in view of the growing influx of refugees, they called on Jewish welfare organizations in the United States to intervene on their behalf. From the end of 1921 hias maintained its representative in Havana, and in 1922–23 the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) added its support. Their intention was to alleviate the difficult conditions in Havana, but also to prevent further immigration, since they did not consider Cuba as a desirable destination or transit station. The Quota Act of 1924, however, convinced the American Jewish welfare agencies that passage from Cuba to the United States was ultimately blocked, and they decided to develop a program that would facilitate Jewish settlement in Cuba and prevent illegal entry into the United States. In 1925 HIAS, in conjunction with the National Council of Jewish Women, established the Jewish Committee for Cuba. Later this body, whose center was in New York, was joined by the Emergency Refugee Committee. The Jewish Community for Cuba (JCC) assisted individual Jews to establish themselves in small business, particularly in workshops for shoes and garments. In addition, it was active in shaping local organizations, with the objective of creating a self-supporting community. The JCC decided to turn the Centro Israelita – an organization that was founded by the immigrants in 1925 – into the central organ of the Jewish community. Led by david blis , Fiodor Valbe, Ben Dizik, and others, the Centro Israelita centralized a diversified range of actvities: aside from welfare assistance to immigrants, a clinic, a library, an evening language school, a student center, and a drama club. The Centro Israelita assisted in the establishment of other institutions, such as the religious Adath Israel organization (1925), the Unión Sionista (1924), and the Froyen Fareyn (1925). In the late 1920s, however, the JCC suspended its support, curtailing the activities of the Centro Israelita and causing the decentralization of the Ashkenazi sector. The Centro Israelita continued to represent the Jewish community vis-à-vis the authorities in matters of immigration, but it failed in its endeavor to become the Ashkenazi Kehillah – an objective that was achieved in the 1950s by the Patronato. The religious services in the Ashkenazi sector were provided by Adath Israel, founded in 1925 by a group of Orthodox Jews who established a small synagogue in Old Havana. A rival synagogue – Knesset Israel – was established on the same street with Rabbi Zvi Kaplan as its spiritual leader (1929–39). Rabbi David Rafalín served in Adath Israel, until his immigration to Mexico (1932), where he became the spiritual leader of Nidjei Israel. Adath Israel, however, remained the central religious organization of the East European sector, with a Talmud Torah and a Chevra Kadisha. The two major welfare institutions of the Ashkenazi sector were the Froyen Fareyn and the Anti-Tuberculosis and Mentally Ill Committee. Their functions reflect the difficult conditions of the immigrants, who suffered from diseases caused by poverty and difficulties of adaptation. The Women's Association established the Meidl Hey – a shelter for young women who arrived in Cuba alone and needed protection. Later it was converted into the Kinder Heym, where orphans or poor children of working mothers found asylum. In 1937, when poverty was less acute, the women founded the Ley Kasse – a loan fund that assisted small businessmen who needed credit. ECONOMIC ADAPTATION AND CUBAN POLITICS The Jewish upper class in Cuba was classified as American since most of its members were U.S. citizens who belonged to the UHC. Enjoying the tight economic relations between Cuba and the United States, they imported consumer goods, worked as high officials in American sugar companies and banks, or owned fashionable stores in the center of Havana. They resided in the fancy neighborhoods of Vedado and Miramar and adopted the way of life of the local American colony. There were cases of rich Jews who did not belong to the Jewish community, married Catholic women, and assimilated into the Cuban bourgeoisie. One of them was Frank Steinhardt (1864–1938), who was born in Munich (Germany), immigrated to the United States, enlisted in the army, and was a sergeant during the war in Cuba. He became a successful businessman, served as U.S. consul general (1902–07), and became the owner of the Electric Railway Company in Havana. A few of the early Sephardi immigrants were successful businessmen, like the fruit dealer Alejandro Rossich (Gabriel Cohen) from Macedonia. The majority, however, started as poor peddlers distributing consumer goods to the lower strata of the population, particularly in the provincial towns and around the sugar centers, where retail trade was scarce. Those who succeeded opened their own stores and supplied merchandise on credit to other peddlers. Though maintaining good relations with their Cuban neighbors, the Sephardim did not engage in Cuban politics. An exceptional case is that of Roberto Namer, born in Aleppo and resident of Holguin, who was appointed Cuban consul in Palestine in 1935. Many of the Ashkenazi immigrants arrived from small shtetls in Poland, destitute, unskilled and with poor education, after having suffered the consequences of World War I. They crowded together in Old Havana in cheap hotels near the red light district of the port. According to the survey of Harry Viteles (1925), which served as the basis for the activities of the JCC, a few hundred Jews were engaged as day laborers in the construction of railroads, in the sugar centers, or on the docks. Most of them, however, were unable to cope with the physical hardships or to compete with the local cheap laborers. Many of the early immigrants became peddlers, especially of cheap ware such as haberdashery and eskimo pie (ice-cream bars), or catered to tourists as street photographers and souvenir vendors. Among the Ashkenazim peddling was perceived as a temporary job, while waiting for an American visa, and most street vendors remained in Havana where competition was great. The retail trade in Cuba was dominated by the Spaniards, who saw the Jews as unfair rivals. Due to their influence the municipal authorities of Havana imposed heavy taxes on peddling permits and increased their control of illegal trade. In 1925 it was estimated that there were 500 East European peddlers in Havana and 300 in the interior. By 1933 there were only 150 in Havana. In addition to external pressure, the decision to remain in Cuba motivated peddlers to open a permanent business. The economic crises that hit Cuba from 1920 on increased the demand for cheap local production that would compete with the expensive merchandise imported under the protection of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States. Using their experience as shoemakers and tailors, East European immigrants started to produce shoes, underwear, and men's suits, especially for the lower classes. With the help of the JCC they acquired sewing machines and other working tools, opening workshops in the commercial center of Old Havana, where they employed other Jews. Morris Lewis, the director of the JCC, estimated in 1927 that there were between 1,500 and 2,000 Jewish workers in the sweatshops of Old Havana, working for low wages in the same difficult conditions that had existed in New York 25 years before. The conflicting interests of the small entrepreneurs and their workers had an impact on political developments among the Ashkenazi Jews, especially in respect to the evolution of the Communists. The Jewish Communists established the Sección Hebrea in 1924, but with the foundation of the Cuban Communist Party (August 1925) gave up their separate organization. Three out of the ten founders of the party were Jews: Yoshke Grimberg, Avraham Simchovich (fabio grobart ), and Felix Gurvich. In 1926 they founded the Kultur Fareyn in order to attract Jewish workers to their banner. The rich cultural program, which included anti-religious parties on the eve of the Day of Atonement, became very popular in the Jewish neighborhood. The small, militant Communist group that led the Kultur Fareyn opened a cooperative restaurant that served as a secret meeting place for the party's activists. The Cuban CP was persecuted brutally by the government of Gerardo Machado (1924–33), especially from 1928, when the regime turned into a dictatorship. One of the first Communist victims was Noske Yalomb, a young Jewish worker from White Russia, whose body was found in Havana Bay. Four other Jews were murdered by the police between 1930 and 1933. Many others were expelled from Cuba as undesirable aliens, including the two Communist leaders Yoshke Grimberg and Chone Chazan. Grobart, who under the name of Simchovich was one of the founders of the party, returned secretly to Cuba after his expulsion, to become the liaison between the Komintern and the Cuban CP. In 1931 the Kultur Fareyn was closed by the authorities and its members were tried for revolutionary activity. In 1934 the organization was revived as the Yidishe Gezelshaft far Kunst un Kultur, but its cultural activities did not achieve their former popularity due to the decline of the Jewish working class after the 1933 revolution. The 1933 revolution was based on a nationalist ideology directed against the domination of aliens in the domestic economy, combined with a struggle against the dictatorship and the corruption of the governing classes. The tremendous unemployment and the deplorable economic situation gave rise to an atmosphere of xenophobia. The slogan of President Grau San Martín was "Cuba for the Cubans." His decree that at least 50% of all workers should be native Cubans and that new jobs would be open only to Cubans became the symbol of the revolution. The political upheavals of 1933–34 were followed by the collapse of the revolutionary government and the intervention of the army, headed by Fulgencio Batista y Záldivar, who became the chief of staff and the strongman of Cuba (1934–40). Batista started to gain power through the repression of opposition. Among the victims of that period was Haim Grinstein, a member of the underground Joven Cuba group, who was sentenced to death by a court martial (1935). A few Jewish labor activists were imprisoned or went into exile. Moises Raigor (1914–36), son of the Yiddish printer Avraham Raigorodski, was a member of a cell of young Jewish Communists and became a leader in the Left Wing Students' Organization. After his release from imprisonment he joined the International Brigades and was killed in the Spanish Civil War. In 1937 Batista started to build his image as a democratic leader by supporting the Spanish Republic and legalizing the CP. At the same time he adopted the banner of the Cuban revolutionary movement – the Law of Nationalization of Labor. This law restricted the rights of aliens to be wage earners, but encouraged them to engage in free enterprise that would create new jobs for Cubans. The discrimination against the Jews accelerated the process of deproletarization, since workers who were pushed out of the working class became self-employed or founded cooperatives with other associates. By 1944 there were only between 200 and 300 Jewish workers in Havana. ANTISEMITISM AND THE REFUGEE PROBLEM Until 1933 antisemitism was a marginal phenomenon in Cuba. The impact of the Catholic Church, and hence of religious antisemitism, was limited to the upper classes, who inherited Spanish colonial values. For the majority of the population, the judíos were diabolical mythical creatures who belonged to the realm of superstition, not to be associated with the immigrants from Eastern Europe whom they classified as polacos (Poles). Under Machado Jewish Communists were persecuted, but the Jewish community was not considered responsible for their acts. During the revolutionary period, apart from a few sporadic manifestations of anti-Jewish feeling, the Jews suffered the consequences of political agitation and anarchy together with the rest of the population. The emergence of antisemitism was connected to the crisis of the Spanish minority after the 1933 revolution as well as with the rise of Nazi Germany. The Spaniards had enjoyed a privileged position in Cuba, and saw themselves displaced by the Jews from their traditional dominance in trade and light industry. Their classification as aliens by the revolutionary government gave rise to a wave of attacks against the Jews based on religious anti-Jewish arguments as well as on concepts of modern antisemitism. At the same time, Nazi Germany inundated Cuba with antisemitic propaganda, finding fertile ground among upper-class Spaniards who were influenced by right-wing elements in their homeland. During the Spanish Civil War the lower-class immigrants from Spain sided with the Republic together with the majority of the Cuban population, which identified the nationalist forces with their oppressors during the colonial era. The upper-class Spaniards, however, identified with Franco, establishing a Cuban branch of the Spanish Falange. Their leader was José Ignacio Rivero, editor of the influential newspaper Diario de la Marina, which became the most important organ in diffusing antisemitic propaganda from Nazi sources. The fierce anti-Jewish attacks had an impact on the problem of the Jewish refugees. The refugees from Europe, who managed to slip in despite severe immigration laws and whose overall number in the years 1933–44 was estimated at about 10,000–12,000 (about 50% from Germany and Austria and the remainder from Poland and other countries), left Cuba, for the most part, after a few years. According to an estimate, in 1949, only 15% of them remained there. After World War II Jews did not reach Cuba in large numbers. The first refugees came from the United States in 1937 for a short stay, in order to obtain American immigration visas. They were aided by the JDC, which for this purpose founded the Joint Relief Committee in Havana. The number of refugees who came directly from Europe reached considerable proportions following the annexation of Austria (March 1938) and especially after Kristallnacht (November 1938). At that time the German quota for the U.S. consulate in Havana was cut drastically, and refugees were forced to remain in Cuba. Refugees had obtained entry permits using loopholes in Cuba's immigration laws, in semi-official arrangements based on graft. The sale of entry permits to the Jewish refugees was complicated by internal political conflicts between President Federico Laredo Bru and the military circle around Chief of Staff Batista, which reached its peak in the famous incident of the Saint Louis. The voyage of the Hapag Company's luxury liner Saint Louis was engineered by the German Ministry of Propaganda as proof that Jews were permitted to leave the Reich, but that democratic countries refused to admit them. A sustained anti-Jewish campaign was organized and financed by local and foreign Nazi elements in collusion with the German embassy. The Government of Laredo Bru invalidated the entry permits held by most refugees before the ship sailed from Hamburg, and it interpreted the arrival of the German ship as a violation of its laws. Disagreements between the president and Batista complicated the situation, but the direct victims of internal and international conflicts were the 936 Jewish refugees who, upon reaching Cuba on May 27, 1939, aboard the Saint Louis, were barred from entry and forced to return to Europe, in spite of the efforts of the JDC to reach an agreement. Four countries in Europe consented to admit the refugees to prevent their return to Germany – France, Belgium, Holland, and England. Unfortunately, only the fourth group was saved. Following the invasion of Western Europe many of the passengers who found refuge in France, Belgium, and Holland were deported to extermination camps, and the story of the Saint Louis became a symbol of the fate of the refugees. The administration of Laredo Bru closed the gates of Cuba on the eve of World War II, but they were reopened when Batista was elected president (1940). Between 5,000 and 6,000 refugees were able to enter Cuba from October 1940 until April 1942. Many of them had fled from Western Europe after the German invasion. Like their predecessors, they were not allowed to work, and they depended on the assistance of the JDC or became self-employed in small industry or trade. The most important contribution of the refugees to the Cuban economy was the establishment of diamond workshops by immigrants from Antwerp (Belgium) that prospered during the war years and provided employment to Cuban workers as well as to the local Jews. In 1943 it was estimated that at least 1,200 workers and 100 proprietors worked in the diamond industry. In December 1941 Cuba declared war against the Axis and in April 1942 President Batista prohibited further entry of passengers from Nazi-occupied countries, but at the same time granted the refugees permission to remain in Cuba until the end of the war. The passengers of two ships, São Tomé and Guiné, were refused landing, but the diplomatic representatives of England and other Allied countries pressed President Batista to avoid a repeat of the Saint Louis incident, and the 450 refugees remained detained in the immigrant camp of Tiscornia for eight months, before they were released. The refugees from Germany and Austria founded the Asociación Democrática de Refugiados Hebreos (1941) and the Belgians established the Asociación de Refugiados Hebreos (1942). Since German spies entered Cuba disguised as Jewish refugees, these organizations fulfilled an essential function in identifying their members as authentic Jews who as victims of Nazism defended the Allied cause. Political threats and antisemitic attacks were correlated with the attempts of the Jewish community to establish a central organization. At first, the Jewish community did not present a united front. Moderate factions, e.g., Americans and heads of the Centro Israelita, feared that large-scale Jewish action might be interpreted as disrupting public affairs and might thus evoke police repression. Nevertheless, a certain amount of community cooperation was obtained during the 1930s through the following institutions: The Federación Israelita de Cuba (1932); Comité Intersocial (1932–35), collaborating with the Comisión Jurídica (1933–34); among its functions was the liberation of Jews imprisoned during the political disturbances; Jewish Committee of Cuba (1935–36), in which Sephardim, Ashkenazim, and Americans collaborated. The Jewish Chamber of Commerce assumed the defense against antisemitism and represented the community on official occasions (between 1936–39). Only during the Saint Louis incident, when the antisemitic propaganda threatened their existence, did Cuban Jews finally reach accord. The Comité Central was organized in 1939, comprising all sectors of the community, and was recognized as its representative organ by the Cuban authorities. It joined forces with anti-Fascist bodies and supported the Allies in World War II. Antisemitism, however, started to decline shortly after the foundation of the Comité Central, since the German agents who instigated the anti-Jewish campaign left the island. After the outbreak of World War II propaganda of totalitarian countries was prohibited by law. The anti-Jewish activities practically disappeared by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On December 9, 1942, when news on the extermination of the Jews in Europe reached Cuba, the Senate approved a resolution condemning the persecution of the "Hebrew race" by the German government. After World War II there were rare manifestations of social discrimination against Jews, but on the whole antisemitism did not strike roots in the Cuban population. EDUCATION AND CULTURE The Jewish day schools in Havana were part of a large network of private schools that served different ethnic groups as well as the middle and upper classes. The only complementary Jewish school was the Sunday School of the UHC, which provided religious education for the American children who studied in prestigious private schools. The first Jewish day school in Havana, Teodoro Herzl, was founded by the Sephardi community Shevet Aḥim in 1924. The leading force behind it was Ezra Behar, who expressed his educational principles in Fundamentos de la moral hebrea (1930). The school's orientation was a combination of religious tradition with a Zionist spirit. The largest Jewish day school was founded by the Centro Israelita under the auspices of the JCC in 1927. At that time, the policy of the school was to help Jewish children in their process of integration. Parents discovered that acculturation could lead to assimilation, and they showed a growing concern about the content of the Jewish heritage transmitted in the school. Until 1939 the Yiddish school was part of the Centro Israelita, but a series of organizational and financial crises resulted in its reconstitution as the Autonomous School affiliated with the Centro Israelita (Oitonome Shul Beim Yiddishn Zenter). The director of the Autonomous School, Eliahu Eliovich, was considered a Bundist, but the school aimed to serve the entire Ashkenazi sector and to preserve its apolitical character by compromising among the conflicting political views. Emphasis was placed on the study of Yiddish and Jewish history, with a secular interpretation of the Jewish tradition. After World War II, and especially after the establishment of the State of Israel, the school became openly Zionist. In the 1950s the Centro Israelita ceased to exist, but the Autonomous School opened a high school (1954) and remained the central Jewish school. A private Jewish school was founded in 1935 by Joseph Abrami, a Hebrew teacher who withdrew from the school of the Centro Israelita in protest against the domination of Yiddish. Abrami, a declared Zionist, opened the Yavneh Hebrew school, which operated until 1945. In 1940 left-wing elements, led by the Communist group, opened the Sholem Aleichem Shule – a Yiddish school for the working class. It was closed in 1949 together with other Communist organizations. The religious sector reopened a Jewish school following the fusion of Adath Israel and Knesset Israel in 1948. Rabbi Meir Rosenbaum, appointed spiritual leader of the new organization, Achdut Israel, founded the Orthodox school Taḥkemoni, which combined modern and religious education. Among the central figures in Jewish education was Ida Glazer de Castiel, a graduate of Havana University, founder of the Modern Jewish School (1944), who published several articles in the Jewish press with the objective of modernizing the Jewish school system. David Pérez, a teacher in the Sephardi school, left his imprint on Jewish education with the preparatoria – training courses for admission to high school that encouraged children, particularly in the Sephardi sector, to continue their studies. The first Jewish university students founded the Circulo de Estudiantes Hebreos in 1928 with the aim of creating a bridge between the Jewish and Cuban cultures. The students published the first Jewish periodical in Spanish, El Estudiante Hebreo (1929–31), but all their activities were suspended when Machado closed the University of Havana. This periodical, however, is one of the few sources that records the ideological development of the Sephardi sector. While the American and Sephardi communities conducted their social and cultural life inside their closed circles, the East European Jews left considerable written records on their cultural activities. In the 1920s immigrants showed a strong inclination toward the theater, literary evenings, and "literary trials." In 1927 the first Jewish book was published in Cuba – the poetry of N.D. Korman, Oyf Indzler Erd. A year later the poet Eliezer Aronowski (1904–85) published the book Kubaner Lieder. Aronowski became the most prolific Yiddish poet in Cuba, accompanying in his writings all the historical events in Cuban Jewish life. His last book, Kuba, was published in 1983, shortly after his emigration from the island. Aronowski and I.A. Pinis devoted poems not only to Jewish subjects, but also to the heroes of Cuban history. Avraham I. Dubelman wrote short novels describing the life of the immigrants. His first anthology, Oyf Kubaner Erd, appeared in 1935. Other prose writers were Pinchas Berniker, Avraham Weinstein, I.B. Mankelkern, and Osher Schuchinski. Among the few books written in Spanish was the poetry of Sonia Winer, Compañeras. A considerable part of this literary work was published in the Jewish press. The Havaner Lebn Almanaque of 1943 lists the titles of 59 journals and periodicals that were published in Cuba – 11 in Spanish (four of the Sephardi community), four in German (by refugees), and 44 in Yiddish. Among the more important periodicals were Oyfgang (1927–30), organ of the Centro Israelita in its heyday; Dos Idishe Vort (1933–35), edited by David Utiansky with a pro-Communist orientation; and Kubaner Yiddisher Vort (1942–50), the organ of the Jewish Communists. The central newspaper of the Yiddish-speaking Cuban Jews was the Havaner Leben-Vida Habanera (1932–63), edited by sender kaplan , whose content was pro-Zionist and dedicated to general and Jewish news. After World War II the number of publications in Spanish increased and they were directed also to the non-Jewish population. Abraham Marcus Matterín (the librarian of the Patronato between 1953 and 1983) edited a number of periodicals, including Israelia, Hebraica, and Reflejos. Marco Pitchon, president of B'nai B'rith (founded in 1943), was editor of its organ, Fragmentos. THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT AND RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL The founder of the Zionist Movement in Cuba was david blis who was nicknamed "The Grandfather of the Jewish Community." He settled in Cuba in 1913 and cooperated with Shevet Aḥim in its early Zionist activities, particularly after the balfour declaration . Blis presented a memorandum on the Jewish question to prominent politicians, and thanks to his endeavors the Cuban Senate approved, on April 30, 1919, a resolution in favor of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. In 1924 a group of East European immigrants founded the Unión Sionista de Cuba. Due to the small number of Zionists and to the constant outgoing migration, the founders decided to unite all Zionists in one organization, regardless of ideological divisions. In comparison with the lively cultural activities of the leftist circles, the beginnings of the Zionist organization were quite poor. Dr. Ariel Ben-Zion, the first emissary of keren hayesod , who arrived in Cuba in 1926, had little confidence in the East European immigrants, and organized a new Zionist committee composed of a few wealthy Jews, mostly from the American sector. Ben Zion also ignored the Zionist leadership of Shevet Aḥim and founded a Cuban branch of a Zionist-Sephardi network that he formed in Latin America called Benei Kedem. This policy proved shortsighted, as both organizations vanished shortly after his departure, leaving those devoted to Zionist ideals without proper communication with the central Zionist offices in Jerusalem. At first, the Unión Sionista was assisted by the JCC, but after a schism with the Centro Israelita it was reorganized with the cooperation of Shevet Aḥim. The president of the Unión Sionista, Avraham Kamioner (1928–34), came from Poland, but most of the board members were Sephardim. The secretary, José Cohen (joseph isaac cohen ), was a rabbi from Istanbul who immigrated to Cuba from Jerusalem and served as a Hebrew teacher in the Teodoro Herzel school. Cohen conducted the correspondence of the Unión Sionista in Hebrew and published ideological articles in the local Jewish press. In 1934 he left Cuba to serve as rabbi of the Or Veshalom Congregation in Atlanta, Georgia. During its "Sephardi period" the Unión Sionista organized protests against the massacres of 1929 in Eretz Israel and against the immigration policy of the British government. It conducted small campaigns on behalf of the jewish national fund and organized cultural events in Spanish. The East European Jews, however, rejected the religiously oriented Zionism of the Sephardim and the use of Spanish in their functions. New Zionist leaders from Lithuania and Poland founded the He-Ḥalutz (1932) and ha-shomer ha-Tzair (1933) youth movements with the object of reconstructing the ideological frameworks brought over from their communities of origin. The predominance of Yiddish removed the Sephardim from the common organization, and they founded their own Zionist frameworks, including the Maccabi youth movement (1934). During the period of the Holocaust, Zionist activities in Cuba, as in other American lands, focused on campaigns on behalf of the Jews who found refuge in Eretz Israel. The tragic situation in their communities of origin, followed by destruction and extermination, increased the readiness of the Jews to contribute generously to the national campaigns, even if they did not adhere ideologically to the Zionist movement. Economic progress, particularly during the war years, increased their ability to give. The Communist group and the Zionists competed for the leadership of the Jewish community. Following the treaty between Hitler and Stalin, the Communists were expelled from the Centro Israelita and founded their own organization – Folks Tzenter. After the invasion of Russia by Nazi Germany, the Communists regained their influence, organizing campaigns on behalf of the Red Army and representing the Jewish community in Cuban anti-Nazi organizations. The Zionist movement, however, increased its influence and became the dominant factor in the Jewish community. The veteran activists, such as Chaim Shiniuk, Raphael Zilber, and Israel Luski, acted under the instructions of the Zionist emissaries sent by the World Zionist Organization. One of the most influential among them was Iosef Tchornitzky from Mexico, who organized the Keren Hayesod campaigns of 1942 and 1943. The local Zionists were also inspired by the refugees from Belgium who found temporary shelter in Cuba during the war. Many of the refugees from Belgium had been born in Poland, and they brought with them their former political and religious beliefs. The Orthodox established their own synagogue, Machazikei Torah, with Rabbi Samuel Alter as their spiritual leader. They organized a small school and a youth movement, Pirchei Agudath Isroel, which operated throughout the war. The Asociación de Refugiados Hebreos of the Belgian Jews opened a Zionist section and a youth movement, Banativ, but they were also accepted as leaders by the veteran Zionists, who admired their higher knowledge as well as their economic success in the diamond industry. A turning point in the history of Cuban Zionism was the visit of Nathan Bistritski (see nathan agmon ), the emissary of the Jewish National Fund to Latin America, who reached Cuba in 1943. Bistritski focused his efforts on the ideological education of all the Jewish sectors, and at the same time established diplomatic contacts among Cuban intellectuals and politicians in order to create favorable public opinion for the foundation of a Jewish State in Palestine after the war. The Comité Cubano Pro Palestina Hebrea (CCPPH) was the first among similar organizations in other Latin American countries, and it was supported by prominent figures, including members of the cabinet, the Congress, and the Senate, from the liberal center to the Communist left. The secretary of the CCPPH was the director of the Office of War Propaganda, Ofelia Domínguez y Navarro, a Communist lawyer who remained a faithful defender of the Zionist cause under Castro's regime. One of the most ardent supporters of the CCPPH was Senator Eduardo Chibás, who passed a resolution that was approved unanimously by the Cuban Senate on October 29, 1945, that "it would view with satisfaction that Palestine, the historical homeland of the Hebrews, be constituted as soon as possible as a Hebrew independent and democratic state." The solidarity of influential sectors, however, did not alter the decision of President Grau San Martín (1944–48) to oppose the United Nations Resolution on the Partition of Palestine of November 29, 1947, making Cuba the only Latin American state to oppose partition. Grau's decision rested on political considerations, including his bitter conflict with Senator Chibás. When his successor, Carlos Prío Socarrás, ascended to the presidency, Cuba recognized the State of Israel and in 1951 sender kaplan , editor of the periodical Havaner Leben, was named honorary consul, a role that he fulfilled until 1960. Raphael Zilber, one of the oldest Zionist leaders in Cuba, immigrated to Israel and became Cuba's commercial representative. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1954, with the ambassador in Mexico acting as Israel's representative. Only after the Castro revolution were the consulates converted into legations, and Israel was able to send a resident ambassador to Havana. Towards the foundation of the State of Israel the Cuban Jewish community experienced an ideological transformation that resulted in the predominance of the Zionist movement. According to Sender Kaplan, the "Zionization" of the community was achieved through the women who founded WIZO in 1942. Organizing different committees of American, Sephardi, Ashkenazi, and refugee Jews, the women became a central factor in the education of the Jewish family. The decline of the Cuban CP during the Cold War had an impact on the Jewish Communists, and many of their longtime sympathizers changed their beliefs and embraced the Zionist cause. In 1947 two groups of Cuban Jews, almost all of them Sephardim, volunteered to fight in the War of Liberation, assisted by betar , which was founded in Cuba in 1940. The first group arrived onboard the Altalena, and two of its members – Daniel Levy and David Mitrani – were killed. Following the establishment of the State of Israel, the Sephardim founded the Consejo Pro Israel as the Zionist organ of Shevet Aḥim. Throughout the 1950s participation in Zionist activities became the common denominator of all the Jewish sectors, which followed with zeal the development of the State of Israel. Zionist sources calculated in 1952 that the overall number of Jews in Cuba was 12,000, 7,200 of them Ashkenazim. About 75% were concentrated in Havana, and the rest were dispersed in Santiago de Cuba, Camagüey, Santa Clara, and other towns throughout the island. Only a limited number of Cuban Jews immigrated to Israel following its independence. Most of them were members of Ha-Shomer ha-Tzair who settled in the kibbutzim of Ga'ash (1949) and Devir (1954). PROSPERITY UNDER BATISTA The military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista (1952–58) was a period of political upheaval and violent political repression, but for the small Jewish community it represented the peak of its achievements. Most Jews were integrated economically into the Cuban bourgeoisie and were able to raise their standard of living. The once poor immigrants residing in Old Havana moved into better residential areas, such as Santos Suarez and Vedado, or into the elegant Miramar. The Sephardim were concentrated in the provincial capitals and later moved to Havana, where economic prospects were better and where their children could find a Jewish spouse. Progress was less noticeable among the Sephardim, with a considerable number still engaged in peddling on the eve of the Castro revolution. A growing number of the immigrants' children – Ashkenazim and Sephardim – studied at the University of Havana and turned to the liberal professions. A group of young intellectuals founded the Agrupación Cultural Hebreo-Cubana to increase understanding between Cubans and Jews. The 1940s and 1950s were a period of great political fermentation among university students, which turned into an open war against the regime of Batista. Jewish students, however, tended to avoid political participation, their integration into Cuban society being in its early stage. Only a small number of Jews took an active part in the Students' Revolutionary Directory or in Castro's 26 of July Movement. Most of them were active in Jewish organizations, such as the Ha-Shomer ha-Tzair and Ha-No'ar ha-Tziyyoni youth movements, or in the social clubs of the different communities. Unaware of the coming revolution, the Jewish population felt confident of its future in Cuba, and its institutions moved from their rented premises into newly constructed buildings that reflected the prosperity of their members. The Orthodox sector, headed by Rabbi Meir Rosenbaum, tried to create a Kehillah – a united communal organization of the Ashkenazi sector that would rest on a religious base. After a series of conflicts a group of rich businessmen that included Herman Heisler, Leib Hiller, Isaac Gurwitz, and Julio Karity took the initiative and contributed the necessary funds for the construction of the Patronato – a beautiful modern building in Vedado, with the main Ashkenazi synagogue and spacious grounds for social and cultural functions. The Patronato – the House of the Jewish Community – was to become the representative organ of Cuban Jews and the center of all their activities. The Orthodox Jews of Old Havana built a modern building for Adath Israel, with a large synagogue and a mikveh. The Unión Sionista had an old building not far from Old Havana and could not compete with the social services offered by the Patronato. The Sephardim followed the example of the Ashkenazi sector in building a luxurious synagogue in Vedado, but the new Sephardi Center was inaugurated when Castro was already in power. The American community, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1956, initiated a building project that never materialized. The American Jews were among the first to leave Cuba after the revolution, returning to the United States, which they considered their homeland. -The Revolutionary Period THE IMPACT OF CASTRO'S REVOLUTION The victory of the revolution on January 1, 1959, was welcomed by the Jewish community, which shared the euphoria of the Cuban population, believing that Fidel Castro would put an end to corruption and injustice. The new regime was not prejudiced against the Jews, and the political careers of those who were involved in the downfall of Batista were not hindered by their Jewish origin. The engineer Enrique Oltuski, who coordinated the revolutionary forces in the province of Las Villas, was appointed minister of communications (1959), becoming the first Jewish member of the cabinet in the history of Cuban Jewry. In spite of ups and downs in his political career, Oltuski served in different governments, until recently as deputy minister of fisheries. Other Jews who were rewarded for their revolutionary actions were Máximo Berman, an activist of the 26 of July Movement, who became minister of commerce. Martin Klein and Victor Sarfati, who were both rebel revolutionaries, attained the rank of captain and colonel in the Armed Forces. The most prominent Jew was Fabio Grobart, the veteran Communist who remained a central figure in the Communist hierarchy. The revolutionary regime treated its Jewish subjects with equity and neither during the revolution nor after its success were any antisemitic attitudes adopted. But, by effecting profound changes in the social, political, and economic structure of the country, the revolution practically destroyed the economic stability of the majority of Cuban Jews. Nationalization of private business by force, economic privations, and Fidel Castro's open identification with Marxist-Leninist ideology were among the causes of the large-scale emigration of upper- and middle-class Cubans as well as of the Jews. Out of a Jewish population of about 12,000 before the revolution, in 1965 there remained about 2,500 Jews and in 1970 only about 1,500. In 1989 there were only 892 persons listed as recipients of products for Passover – 635 of them were Jews and 258 were their non-Jewish relatives; 82% of the Jews listed lived in Havana and the rest in provincial towns. The exodus of Cuban Jews, like that of their non-Jewish counterparts, was directed mainly towards miami , though many were relocated by HIAS in other cities in the United States or settled in other Latin American countries, like Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Mexico. The Cuban government treated these emigrants as enemies of the revolution and their property was confiscated. The Jews who decided to make aliyah were treated with more respect, as fellow idealists. The Jewish Agency was able to charter from the Cuban Air Company three airplanes, bringing to Israel 420 olim (1961–62). The exodus started in 1960 with the wealthy merchants and industrialists, whose business activities were stopped by the INRA (National Institute of Agrarian Reform), but it included also the lay and religious leadership. A second wave of emigration, mostly of lower-middle-class Jews, was caused by the nationalization of small businesses in 1968. The Jews who chose to remain in Cuba because they adhered to the revolutionary ideology preferred to stay aloof from the Jewish community, fearing that it would taint their reputations by identifying them as practitioners of religion. A relatively large number of these Jews turned to academic studies and integrated into the state economy in the liberal professions, a few attaining national fame for their remarkable achievements in science, music, literature, cinematography, and art. Among those who stayed were all the veteran Communists, whose merits were recognized by the new regime, but their attempts to represent the Jewish community were rejected by its members, who continued to identify with the Zionist movement. The new president of the community was Moisés Baldás (1961–81), born in Poland where he studied at a Tarbut school and was fluent in Hebrew. He had immigrated to Cuba in 1927 and become a successful businessman, but following the revolution he decided to dedicate himself to the declining community, presiding over the Patronato and the Unión Sionista and acting as the representative of the Jewish Agency. His functions included the protection of the Jewish community vis-à-vis the government as well as the provision of the spiritual and material necessities of those who remained affiliated with it. A large proportion of these Jews were elderly or handicapped, and they depended on the Jewish community for their sustenance. As individuals, these Jews lived in the margins of the revolutionary society, but the religious freedom of the Jewish community as an institution was protected and respected by Castro's government. The Jewish institutions throughout Cuba were not dissolved by the government, and their existence depended on the activity of their members and not decrees from above. The five synagogues of Havana continued to function throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Temple Beth Israel of the American Jews was sold to the government around 1980 for lack of membership, and its property – including the Jewish cemetery – was transferred to Adath Israel. The three modern buildings of Adath Israel, the Patronato, and the Centro Sefaradi were permitted to rent out the unused parts of their spacious buildings to Cuban cultural organizations, so that rent received indirectly from the government covered the current expenses of the Jewish institutions. The synagogue of Shevet Aḥim in Old Havana was used until the late 1990s and was closed due to the deterioration of the building. The Cuban government respected the Jewish dietary laws, and permitted Adath Israel not only to have their shoḥet use the government slaughterhouse, but also to operate the only private business – the kosher butcher shop where Jews were allowed to receive their meat rations. The Jewish community was permitted to receive packages of matzot and other products for Passover from abroad that were sent annually, from 1961, by the Canadian Jewish Congress. For the distribution of these products, which became the major form of identification with the Jewish community, Moisés Baldás organized the Comisión Coordinadora – a committee with representatives of the five synagogues that served as a central organization for Cuban Jewry. The nationalization of education, in 1961, brought about the closure of all private schools, but Jews were granted special permission to impart Jewish education within the government system. The Autonomous School of the Centro Israelita was converted into a public school named after Albert Einstein, and in addition to the regular curriculum provided daily classes in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Jewish history. The government supplied transportation for Jewish children living in other parts of the city. This arrangement lasted until 1975, when it was suddenly stopped by government order. A small Sunday school was set up in the Patronato, where Baldás taught Hebrew and Jewish culture until his immigration to Israel in 1981. The Unión Sionista continued to exist, and its members were able to carry on various cultural and educational activities within the limits of the revolutionary regime. Cuba was among the sponsors of the United Nations Assembly Resolution equating Zionism with racism (1975). It took, however, three years before the government realized that a Zionist organization was still functioning in Cuba. In 1978 the Unión Sionista was closed by government order and its building was confiscated and handed over to the PLO. THE REVIVAL OF THE 1990S The fall of the Soviet Union and the Communist Bloc in Eastern Europe caused a severe crisis in Cuba and shattered its economic base. Castro's government was forced to make ideological concessions to survive, including greater religious freedom and an influx of tourists and foreign investors. In 1990, when Castro declared the emergency policy of "the Special Period," the Jewish population had already been assimilated, and it shared with the rest of the Cuban people the economic difficulties as well as the crisis of values. The small community consisted of around 800 members and the intermarriage rate was over 90%. The Jewish presence was felt only in the Havana synagogues, where elderly people participated in the daily services of Adath Israel or the Sabbath prayers in the Patronato and Centro Sefaradi, to receive the modest meals offered after services. From 1981 the community had been led by José Miller Ferdman, a dental surgeon born in Cuba who in the 1950s was secretary of the Agrupación Cultural Hebreo Cubana – an organization of Jewish intellectuals who tried to bridge between their Cuban and Jewish identities. Miller was one of the few Jews who remained faithful to Judaism while identifying with the revolutionary regime and achieving prominence in his professional field. Miller served as president of the Patronato from 1981 and is the representative of the Jewish community vis-à-vis the authorities. Adela Dworin, the main official of the Patronato, is one of the few Cuban Jews with a Yiddish background and Jewish education. She served as the librarian and secretary of the Patronato and was appointed vice president in view of increasing activities following the Jewish revival of the 1990s. The revival of the community was engendered by the critical situation in Cuba but was made possible by spiritual and material assistance from abroad. From the mid-1980s Jewish tourists, particularly from Latin America, started to visit Cuba, and their donations became an important source of support to the declining community. A small Sunday school was reorganized in the Patronato in 1985, with Moisés Asis and Dr. Alberto Mechulam as volunteer teachers. They were assisted by the religious emissaries of Ḥabad , who later focused their activities around Adath Israel, which became identified with the Orthodox movement. A small group of young Jews, born in mixed families and raised under the revolution, started to search for their roots in the Jewish community and to organize spontaneously, seeking spiritual guidance. The growing need of the new generation to rediscover its Jewishness was met by the JDC, which started to assist the Jews of Cuba through its branch in Buenos Aires, providing religious and social leaders. The most influential among them was Rabbi Shmuel Szteinhendler, a graduate of the Seminario Rabinico of the Conservative movement in Buenos Aires, who served as rabbi in Guadalajara (Mexico). Throughout the revolutionary period the Jewish community of Cuba depended on the occasional visits of religious Jews to conduct services or perform religious ceremonies. During the 1980s the community had no mohel, and children grew up without circumcisions and bar mitzvahs. Rabbi Szteinhendler visited Cuba several times and in addition to his performance of Jewish rituals he trained local Jews to conduct their own services. He prepared persons who identified as Jews but were not halakhically Jewish to reaffirm their religion through conversion and religious marriage. About 150 males were circumcised before they were converted by a Bet Din of three rabbis that visited Cuba for this purpose, using the mikveh of Adath Israel. Szteinhendler also assisted in the revival of Judaism in the provincial towns, which had remained isolated from Jewish life since the revolution. Renovated communal institutions were established in Cienfuegos (1993), Guantánamo (1994), Santiago de Cuba (1995), Santa Clara (1995), Sancti Spiritus (1996), Manzanillo (1997), and Camagüey (1998). The Jewish renaissance was accompanied by a trickle of aliyah, which increased considerably after 1994 following the quota imposed by U.S. President Clinton on immigration from Cuba. The main reasons for emigration were the difficult economic situation in Cuba, and many Jews did not hide their desire to use Israel as a stepping stone on their way to Miami. Lack of official relations between Cuba and Israel resulted in a secret arrangement between Cuba and the Jewish Agency, code-named Operation Cigar. In 1999 it became known that around 600 olim had reached Israel, but publicity did not hinder the aliyah, which continued on a small scale. The community today is a center of great activity, particularly of the younger generation, as well as a focus of interest and philanthropy for Jews in the Western Hemisphere. (Margalit Bejarano (2nd ed.) -Cuba-Israel Relations Following Fidel Castro's revolution in 1959, and before Castro declared his intentions of introducing into Cuba a Socialist system based on the Soviet one, there was a period of fairly intense activity, which, inter alia, found expression in a series of trade agreements signed in 1959, 1960, and 1962. During Batista's administration Israel and Cuba were represented by their honorary consuls and by non-resident ambassadors. Diplomatic relations were strengthened under Castro, with the nomination of Dr. Jonathan Prato as the first resident ambassador in Havana (1961). Castro's sympathetic attitude towards Israel was partly due to his personal relations with Ricardo Subirana y Lobo (richard wolf ), a German Jew who had immigrated to Cuba prior to World War I and was appointed Cuba's ambassador to Israel (1961) in recognition of his generous support of the revolutionary struggle. Subirana y Lobo sent at his own expense agricultural and technical experts from kibbutzim to Cuba and used his personal contacts with Castro to protect the interests of Israel as well as those of Cuban Jews. Following the severance of diplomatic relations between the two countries (1973), he settled permanently in Israel and founded the Wolf Foundation. The growing similarity of outlook on foreign policy between the Cuban government and the Soviet Union led to Cuban support of the Arab position. Cuba – alienated from its neighbors in the Western Hemisphere and suspended from participation in the Organization of American States – came to seek support, increasingly, among the countries of the so-called Third World, among which Egypt and Algeria played a prominent role. With the establishment in Havana of the Secretariat of the Tri-Continental Organization, which adopted the cause of the anti-Israel Palestine Liberation Movement (plo ), Havana became increasingly active in spreading its doctrine. The press and radio of Cuba reflected this tendency, particularly after the Six-Day War (1967), in a one-sided editorial policy and selection of information. However, in spite of the heavy pressure brought to bear upon it, the Cuban government refused to break diplomatic relations with Israel and maintained its policy of recognizing Israel, and on various occasions manifested its support for Arab-Israel negotiations as a preferable means of resolving the Middle East conflict. At the United Nations, however, the Cuban government was consistent in supporting the Arab viewpoint against Israel from the mid-1960s and relations between the two countries continued to deteriorate. In September 1973, during the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in Algiers, Castro announced his decision to sever diplomatic relations with Israel. The attacks against Israel in the Cuban media became unrestrained, and Cuba endorsed a militant anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian position in all the international arenas. In 1975 Castro's government co-sponsored United Nations Resolution 3379 declaring Zionism a form of racism. Propaganda against Israel and against Zionism has since been virulent, but the Cuban government was cautious not to slide into antisemitism or deny the legitimate existence of the State of Israel. The Cuban media made a clear distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, and the Jewish community has never been attacked or discriminated against in spite of the hostile attitude towards Israel. Likewise, Cuba's permanent condemnation of Israel and its defense of the Palestinians were directed against the Israeli government and its policy, not against the people or the existence of the state. A Friendship League including members of the Israel Communist Party has been active since the 1960s. The end of the Cold War did not alter Cuba's pro-Palestinian position, nor its anti-Israel pronouncements in all international forums. The official hostility towards Israel is nurtured by its close relations with the United States, manifested by its consistent voting in the United Nations in support of the American embargo. Quietly, however, there were signs of change in the economic and cultural spheres as well as a softening line in politics conditioned by prospects of peace in the Middle East. Private Israeli firms invested in Cuba's post-Soviet economy, and there were signs of rapprochement of non-political entities, such as academic and artistic institutions. (Netanel Lorch / Margalit Bejarano (2nd ed.) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: R.M. Levine, Tropical Diaspora: The Jewish Experience in Cuba (1993); B. Sapir, Jewish Community of Cuba (1948); H. Viteles, Report on the Status of the Jewish Immigration in Cuba (1925); L. Ran, in: Algemeyne Entsiklopedye-Yidn, 5 (1957), 421–36, includes bibliography; G. Minkowicz, Tsifern un Fakten vegn Idishen Yishuv in Kuba (1952). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Bejarano, "Yahadut Kubah 1898–1939," Ph.D. dissertation (1992); M. Asis, in: Yahadut Zemanenu 5 (1990, 325–39; M. Bejarano, La comunidad hebrea de Cuba: la memoria y la historia (1996); D.E. Kaplan, in: AJYB 101 (2001), 21–87; M.C. Capestani, Presencia Hebrea en Cuba (2004).
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.
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