A Marriage of Different Cultures:
The Jews of Havana, Cienfuegos & Santa Clara


February 7—14 (filled); February 14—21, 2017 (filled)

Cuban Women | Jewish Heritage Travel

Traveling with You...

Scholar in Residence

Maritza Corrales is a Cuban historian who has dedicated her life’s work to researching the history of Jews in Cuba. Born in 1948, she is a graduate of the University of Havana (1972) and lives in Havana. She has been a consulting scholar to numerous research and academic institutions in Cuba and has published numerous articles on the history of Cuban Jews. She has lectured at universities in Israel, Spain, Mexico and Cuba.

Accompanying Faculty

Evry Mann travel scholar | jhtravel.orgEvry Mann, M.A. is a percussionist, composer and writer who holds masters degrees in religious studies and in music composition. Founder of the Center for Creative Education — a non-profit cultural center in Stone Ridge, New York — he was an artist in residence with the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico for six years, performing throughout the country. Ev has led over 50 trips to Cuba to study music, dance, and visual art, and authored the section on Music and Nightlife in Havana for the “Time Out” Guidebook. He has also studied traditional African music in Mali and Senegal and worked extensively with the Ballet Folklorico Cutumba of Santiago de Cuba.

Trip Leader

Aryeh-Maidenbaum | jhtravel.orgAryeh Maidenbaum, Ph.D., has a strong background in the fields of History, Psychology and Jewish Studies. Dr. Maidenbaum has led many trips to Cuba and has more than 25 years experience in organizing and leading educational tours – Psychology and Jewish travel oriented programs. Director of the New York Center for Jungian Studies, Dr. Maidenbaum received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is a former faculty member at N.Y.U., and a contributing author to Current Theories of Psychoanalysis. He has edited several books and articles, including Lingering Shadows: Jungians, Freudians and Anti-Semitism, and Jung and the Shadow of Anti-Semitism.

Program Overview

The history and heritage of the Jews of Cuba is rich, multilayered, and influenced by an amalgam of Jews primarily from Turkey and Eastern Europe who fled Europe prior to the Holocaust. Powerfully affected by the emigration of more than 90 percent of its Jewish population following the 1959 Revolution, Cuban Jewry has nevertheless managed to survive as a unique and creative community.

Members of the Museum of Jewish Heritage are invited to join what many consider the finest Jewish trip to Cuba and experience this fascinating country, with a special focus on its varied and diverse Jewish community as well as its music, myth, and culture. Led by Dr. Aryeh Maidenbaum, who has organized and led trips to Cuba for over a dozen years, our group will be traveling to Cuba under the auspices of an approved Treasury Department license.

Our base will be the five-star Meliá Cohiba Hotel in Havana. During our stay in there, we will participate in services at the Patronato Synagogue, hear presentations by local and accompanying scholars, and visit the Holocaust exhibit at the Sephardic Center. From Havana, there will be an overnight excursion to the outlying province of Santa Clara as well as Cienfuegos, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In Santa Clara, we will visit Cuba’s newest synagogue. We will also take time in both provinces to meet with members of their small but dedicated Jewish communities.

This unique program will include presentations, meetings with local scholars and leaders of the Jewish community, and music by some of the best musicians on the island, as well as visits to world-class museums. Meet leaders of the thriving Jewish community of Cuba, and experience the diverse music, spirit, and culture of this mysterious island before it changes!




Tentative Daily Itinerary*

Tuesday, February 7 and 14

Early morning departure from Miami on charter flight to Havana. Check in to deluxe Meliá Cohiba Hotel, one of the best in Havana. Presentation by Professor Maritza Corrales on “The Jews of Cuba,” followed by orientation, reception, and sumptuous buffet dinner at our hotel (included).

Dr. Maritza Corrales is a Cuban historian who has dedicated her life’s work to researching the history of Jews in Cuba. Based in Havana, she has been a consulting scholar to numerous research and academic institutions in Cuba, and has lectured at Universities in the United States, Israel, Spain, and South America.

Wednesday, February 8 and 15

We will begin this morning by meeting with a leading Cuban authority on Cuban art and the architecture of Havana, followed by a visit the Sephardic Center in Old Havana to meet with Mayra Levy, President of the Center.

Dr. Levy, a physician, and one of HavanaiStock_000014468752_CubaDrums_hcs’s Jewish community leaders, will discuss the history and role of Sephardic Jews in Cuba and a history dating back to the first Jewish immigration from Turkey following WWI.

Following our meeting with Dr. Levy, we will visit the Sephardic Center’s small, but moving Holocaust museum – the first exhibit about the Holocaust displayed in Cuba. After lunch (included) and a walk in Old Havana, return to our hotel for discussion, dialogue, and music.

Evening free: dinner on our own.

Thursday, February 9 and 16

Accompanied by Professor Corrales, we will visit the Jewish cemeteries of Havana- time permitting, both Ashkenazi and Sephardic. Following templo-chevet-ahim_720x490lunch (included) at La Barracca (outdoor restaurant of the Hotel Nacional), walk through Central Havana before an afternoon visit to Adath Israel, the Orthodox Jewish congregation, where we will learn about the work they are doing with the elderly and impoverished Jews in Havana and ascertain the needs they have for continuing this special project.

Evening: panel discussion and dialogue with scholars. Dinner on our own or optional activities.

Friday, February 10 and 17

Morning: private guided tour of the National Museum of Fine Arts led by the Deputy Curator of the museum and who is also a member of Havana’s Jewish community. Lunch at El Aljibe restaurant (included) and afternoon meeting with leaders of the Patronato — center of the Jewish community in Cuba.This evening, we will attend services at the Beth Shalom, the Conservative Synagogue of Havana, with a festive Shabbat dinner at the hotel (included) to follow.

Saturday, February 11 and 18

(Optional) Attend services at one of Havana’s three Jewish synagogues, or free to rest, enjoy the Cohiba’s amenities, and/or explore Havana on our own.

Evening: (optional) attend a cultural activity in Havana.

Sunday, February 12 and 19
Santa Clara — Cienfuegos

Early morning departure from Havana for Santa Clara (our rooms will be kept at the Cohiba; only an overnight bag needed). See 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 (included) and overnight stay.


Monday, February 13 and 20
Cienfuegos — Havana

Meet with Jewish community representatives in Cienfuegos and understand firsthand the dedication needed to maintaining Jewish life in this small community. Visit the home of its president which serves as a Jewish center on Shabbat and holidays and deliver donations of food and medications we will bring with us. Return to Havana with time to rest, relax or walk about Havana on our own before an evening closing meeting and dinner (included) at our hotel.

Afternoon: Free to explore Havana on our own.

Tuesday, February 14 and 21

Following breakfast, depart for the airport and return trip home.


*Please Note: Daily schedule may be modified subject to weather or unanticipated changes.


Hotel Melia Cohiba lobby | jhtravel.orgHotel Meliá Cohiba
The Meliá Cohiba in Havana 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.

Hotel Jagua Cienfuegos Cuba Guest Room | jhtravel.orgLa Jagua Hotel (Cienfuegos)
A four star hotel in the picturesque city of Cienfuegos, La Jagua is considered the best hotel in Cienfuegos. Located on the bay, within walking distance of town, one can enjoy spectacular views of the bay from each of its rooms.
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Hotel Jagua Cienfuegos Cuba Lobby | jhtravel.org
Hotel Melia Cohiba Cuba Pool | jhtravel.org

Travel in comfort. We stay at deluxe hotels with fine amenities. Accommodations for this trip listed below.

Program Details

PLEASE NOTE: This trip is no longer open for online registration. To inquire please contact the office at 845.256.0197, Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm or by email anytime.

Both trips to Cuba are filled. Registration is closed.
Program Details (cost and what it includes)
Program cost: $4,650
(plus $54 Museum of Jewish Heritage membership fee for nonmembers)
Program fee includes:

  • Round-trip airfare from Miami to Havana*
  • Seven nights’ accommodations at five-star Meliá Cohiba Hotel, Havana
  • Overnight at La Jagua Hotel. (Participants will not need to check out of the hotel in Havana; only an overnight bag will be needed.)
  • Breakfast daily; three lunches and three dinners
  • All lectures, presentations, guided tours, museum, and site entrance fees
    Ground transportation in Cuba via deluxe, air-conditioned coach

*Per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement available at $575. Gratuities ($160) additional

To reserve your place, please complete the registration form and submit with a non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person (payable to The Jewish Heritage Travel Program). Second non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person is due on August 5, 2016. Balance is due in full by October 7, 2016.

JHT-2017 CUBA-Trip Info_revised June 2016

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Download and print the trip information.

Register with confidence: Your deposit is 100% refundable if Covid restrictions cause us to cancel this trip.


Limited to 30 participants, the program will entail considerable walking in Havana, including uneven terrain. Participants need to be in active, good health and able to keep up with the group. Feel free to contact us at (845-256-0197) or info@localhost with any questions.

Help with Travel Arrangements

One of the services we provide, at no additional charge, is to help with your travel arrangements. Our knowledgeable and patient staff can assist you in making your travel plans — including booking reservations that are available from the various airlines.