The heritage of Cuba is rich and layered, influenced by African, Caribbean, Spanish, and American culture. During the course of our trip, we will visit with several Jewish communities on the island and experience this fascinating country through its music, art, and culture. Under the auspices of an approved Treasury Department license, our program will include meetings with leaders of the Jewish communities; presentations, dialogue, and discussions with local scholars and professors; and performances of Cuban music.
Led by Miriam Levinson, our exploration of Cuba will begin in Havana, where we will familiarize ourselves with Jewish cultural and religious life in Cuba by visiting its synagogues and other points of interest, including the world-class National Museum of Fine Arts. From Havana, we will travel to the outlying provinces of Santa Clara and Cienfuegos (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), where we will visit Cuba’s newest synagogue (Santa Clara) and meet with members of the small but dedicated Jewish communities in Santa Clara and Cienfuegos.
Through our travels, we will familiarize ourselves with the way Cuban Jewry has sustained itself over the years, meet Cuban artists, and experience the wonderfully diverse music, spirit, and culture of this exotic island.
We invite you to join us on this extraordinary program, limited to 30 participants. (Please note: we expect this trip to fill quickly; last year, we had to turn away many interested people. Please register early to ensure your participation.)
Departure from Miami to Havana. Upon arrival in Havana, check in to the deluxe, five star Meliá Cohiba Hotel- one of the best in Havana. Afternoon walking tour through two of Old Havana’s four famous squares. Evening Orientation meeting and Reception followed by a sumptuous buffet dinner at our hotel.
Morning: Presentation by Professor Maritza Corrales a Cuban historian who has dedicated her life’s work to researching the history of Jews in Cuba, on “The Jews of Cuba.”
Following Dr. Corrales’ talk, we will visit the Sephardic Center to meet with Mayra Levy, a retired physician, President of the Center and one of Havana’s Jewish community leaders. Here, we will also have time to see the Center’s small, but moving Holocaust museum – the first exhibit about the Holocaust displayed in Cuba- before departing for lunch at the lovely San Cristobal Paladar (included).
Following lunch, continue exploring Old Havana with a walk through the other two squares of Old Havana before returning to our hotel for authentic Cuban music by one of the leading groups on the island.
Evening free; dinner on our own.
Accompanied by Dr. Corrales, we will begin the day by visiting the Jewish Cemetery in Havana before a tour of “Finca La Vigia” (Hemingway House) followed by lunch at the nearby, picturesque El Divino Paladar (included). Afternoon visit to Patronato, center of the Jewish community of Cuba, where we will meet with leaders of the community and learn firsthand about the work they are doing with the Jewish Community of Havana – including its youth and elderly.
Evening: Presentation and discussion with Professor Marta Nunez on “Gender and Social issues in Cuba.” Dinner on our own.
Morning: Private guided tour of the world class National Museum of Fine Arts- Cuban collection. Lunch on our own; afternoon free.
This evening, we will attend services at Beth Shalom- the Conservative Synagogue of Havana, followed by a festive Shabbat dinner at our hotel (included).
(Optional) Attend services at one of Havana’s Synagogues… OR…free to rest, enjoy the Cohiba’s amenities, and/or explore Havana on our own. This afternoon, optional activities led by our guide will be offered.
Evening: (optional) Attend a music or dance performance (subject to availability).
Check out of Melia Cohiba for early morning departure to Santa Clara (only an overnight bag will be needed; luggage will be stored by the Cohiba and brought to rooms when we check back in on Monday). In Santa Clara, we will visit the newest Synagogue in Cuba; meet Jewish community leaders, and visit the rededicated cemetery, which includes a moving memorial to the Holocaust. Following lunch (included) in Santa Clara, proceed to Cienfuegos. Check into La Jagua Hotel in Cienfuegos for dinner at Finca del Mar- a lovely Paladar by the sea (included) and performance by famed Cienfuegos Choir- one of the leading choral groups in Cuba.
Meet with Rebecca Langus, whose home serves as a Jewish center on Shabbat and holidays in Cienfuegos to learn firsthand about the dedication needed to maintain Jewish life in this small community. Return to Havana and check back in to the Melia Cohiba – with time to rest, relax or walk about Havana on our own.
Afternoon: Free to explore Old Havana and visit sites of personal interest.
Evening: Festive closing dinner at our hotel (included).
Following breakfast, depart for the airport and return trip home.
Hotel Meliá Cohiba
The Meliá Cohiba is a five star, deluxe, Spanish operated hotel one of finest hotels in Havana. It is located in the residential neighborhood of Vedado, overlooks the sea and is a five-minute drive from Old Havana.