By Ruth Behar
Yiddish-speaking Jews idea Cuba was once purported to be a trifling layover at the trip to the us once they arrived within the island kingdom within the Nineteen Twenties. They even known as it “Hotel Cuba.” yet then the years handed, and the numerous Jews who got here there from Turkey, Poland, and war-torn Europe stayed in Cuba. The liked island ceased to be a resort, and Cuba finally turned “home.” yet after Fidel Castro got here to strength in 1959, nearly all of the Jews adverse his communist regime and left in a mass exodus. even though they remade their lives within the usa, they mourned the lack of the Jewish neighborhood that they had equipped at the island.
As a baby of 5, Ruth Behar was once stuck up within the Jewish exodus from Cuba. transforming into up within the usa, she questioned concerning the Jews who stayed at the back of. Who have been they and why had they stayed? What strains have been left of the Jewish presence, of the cemeteries, synagogues, and Torahs? Who was once caring for this legacy? What Jewish thoughts had controlled to outlive the years of progressive atheism?
An Island referred to as Home is the tale of Behar’s trip again to the island to discover solutions to those questions. not like the unique photo projected by means of the yankee media, Behar uncovers a facet of Cuban Jews that's poignant and private. Her relocating vignettes of the members she meets are coupled with the delicate photos of Havana-based photographer Humberto Mayol, who traveled with her.
jointly, Behar’s poetic and compassionate prose and Mayol’s shadowy and riveting images create an unforgettable portrait of a neighborhood that many have noticeable although few have understood. This publication is the 1st to teach either the energy and the heartbreak that lie in the back of the venture of protecting alive the flame of Jewish reminiscence in Cuba.
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Additional info for An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba
What tormented me was that I had no memories of the island. So I went looking for memories. In La Habana Vieja, I returned to the apartment on Calle Aguacate, where my mother had lived, which was located above my grandfather’s lace store, Casa Máximo. I returned to the tenement facing the Port of Havana on Calle Oficios, where my father had lived, and stood on the balcony from where my Abuela had tossed a package of unkosher meat, infuriating my Abuelo, who’d brought it home victoriously in a time of hunger and misery.
But addicts must like privacy, because the truth was that, as a Cuban American, I felt unnerved by American desires for Cuba. The more Americans I met who waxed romantic about Cuba, the more I felt that I was losing Cuba all over again. . My mother and other Cuban Jews who left the island in the 1960s were convinced that no semblance of Jewish life could have survived the onslaught of revolutionary atheism. But I discovered that Jewish life had waned in the first decades after the Revolution, but it hadn’t completely disappeared.
The more I went to Cuba, the more I needed to go. I had become a Cuba addict. And like any addict, I needed my fix. My Cuba fix. Not even my grandmother’s admonitions, my mother’s paranoia, my father’s disapproval, my husband’s quiet relinquishing of time we might have spent together, my son’s tears, or even my own heartbreak every time I said goodbye was enough to stop me. After a few months of being away from the island, I started to feel an intense desire to return. Despite all my fears and anxieties and phobias, I wanted to be in Havana, where I was born.