B’nai B’rith International has a very large hand print in supporting the Cuban Jewish community with longstanding ties to the island. The B’nai B’rith Maimonides Lodge has operated in Havana, Cuba since 1943.
As a local association of B’nai B’rith members, the Maimonides Lodge has served as headquarters for a number of religious and cultural projects and programs across Cuba.
For nearly twenty years, B’nai B’rith has also operated legal missions to Cuba under the auspices of the Cuban Jewish Relief Project. Through our partnership with the Maimonides lodge we have initiated the Tzedakah Project, providing direct gifts in small amounts to assist 120 elderly Cuban Jews across the island.
Our mission participants have also carried down thousands of pounds of religious material contributions to enhance the ability of the Jewish population in Cuba to practice their religion, as well as medicines and other necessities, while building personal friendships to last a lifetime.
After last week's news that American Jewish prisoner Alan Gross was being released -- a precursor to an announcement of normalized relations between the United States and Cuba after five decades of hostility -- B'nai B'rith Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn was featured in an article in the Jerusalem Post.
Read highlights from the story, below:
Speaking to the Post by phone from Uruguay, Dr. Eduardo Kohn, director of Latin American Affairs for B’nai B’rith International, said that “the only thing we can expect is hope that this resolution of reopening diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba will let things get better, not only for the Jewish community in Cuba but for all the people [there] regarding the question of democratic life.”
Any democratic gains made by Cubans in general will certainly affect the Jewish community, he added.
The relationship between Cuba’s Jews and organized American Jewry has been “very close,” Kohn said.
Both B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee have been active in Cuba, bringing books, medicines and other supplies and even rabbis and teachers, he said.
“Now with this opening I hope that all Jewish organizations will go to Cuba and see what is there and help them with everything we can because the possibility of helping will be much more open.”
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