I have never visited in Cuba. The nearest I have come to Cubans occurred more than 40 years ago when my late wife and I were traveling in Mexico. One day in Acapulco, we met by chance (or by Divine intervention) a lovely young Cuban woman and her husband.
It was a happy meeting for us both because since that day we have maintained a life-long friendship by way of the internet, telephone and postal mail. The wonderful Alba is a devout Catholic, now living in heavily populated Cuban society in south Florida. She prays each week in her Catholic church for the peace and security of Israel.
She reads everything available about Israel’s history, politics and culture. And she adores Israeli food. I manage to send food packages to her from Israel containing all the sweets we have to share with her.
Sadly, I read in today’s news of the cruelty our government is showing to a Cuban wife and husband who immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return.
Anne Solomon of Havana immigrated with her husband Jorge. They have three Cuban nephews living in Beersheba. Anne’s grandfather was a Jew born in Israel in 1945. She presented all of her documents to the immigration authorities upon arriving in Israel.
She and her husband were both issued a Teudat Zehut, our national identity card, and they rejoiced at being Israeli citizens in the Jewish homeland.
Cuba has an interesting Jewish history. It is believed that many thousands made their way to the island to escape persecution from the Spanish Inquisition. In modern times there were 25,000 Cuban Jews in 1924, most living in Havana (15,000) and the rest in other cities in Cuba. In 1959 just prior to the Communist revolution, there were five synagogues in Havana and several more outside the capital.
As a result of the 1959 revolution, 94% of Cuba’s Jewish population left the country, most settling in the south Florida area of the USA.
Today there remain approximately 1,500 Jews in Havana. The only orthodox synagogue in the capital is Adath Israel and there are two other synagogues in Havana and a few in other cities. There are no rabbis.
Israel and Cuba have not had diplomatic relations since 1973 but Israel maintains an Interest Section in the Canadian Embassy in Havana.
But now, a Cuban Jewish family is being cruelly treated by Israeli authorities.
The treatment of the Solomon family who immigrated from Cuba to Israel recently is very disturbing. First, they were warmly welcomed to the country and were recognized as Jews. They received citizenship. But suddenly, their situation became worse.
The immigration department of the Ministry of Interior suddenly discovered errors in the documents which the Solomon’s had produced upon arrival.
Since her grandfather was a born Jew in pre-state Israel, Anne and her three nephews could be considered eligible for citizenship. They all had the same grandfather.
Yet, the three nephews can remain in Beersheba but Anne and Jorge must be deported. They have been ordered by the Ministry of Interior to return their blue national identity cards. Why?
In the year 2007, there were recorded 300,000 non-Jewish Russian immigrants who arrived with Jewish wives or husbands and who were permitted to enter and to remain in Israel. Since 2007 their numbers have grown.
Why can hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish Russians live in Israel and one Cuban Jewish woman and husband cannot? Where is the reasoning? Why do our authorities give them such anguish and cruelty? Why?
Once they were legally admitted and recognized formally, they should be permitted to remain without problems.
If Anne’s documents were not considered correct why were they accepted originally in the first place only to decide months later that there had been an error?
The error was probably made by the Ministry of Interior. It should be corrected with an apology to Anne Solomon and husband.
And the Israeli public should send messages of complaint and discrimination of a Jewish woman and her husband who only wanted to return to the Jewish homeland.
As a newly created proverb states “porque hay tanta estupidez entre los funcionarios Israelies?”
Buena suerte a la familia Solomon de Cuba!