Abraham and Eugenia:
Stories from Jewish Cuba

Abraham and his son Yacob

A review by Paul Kaplan, Library Journal, March 1997

When Castro came to power in 1959, the Jewish population of Cuba numbered 15,000. Though most have since emigrated, the remaining Jews have had an uncertain fate. In the 1990s, there is a resurgence of custom and belief among the Cuban Jews.

The film opens with scenes of the Jewish cemetery, the ghosts of which haunt and give shape to the film. Abraham, a middle-aged man who remembers better times, lives in Havana, a city with a great Jewish presence. Wanting to maintain his traditions, Abraham lovingly prepares his son for his bar mitzvah, the first such event in Cuba in 15 years. Eugenia lives in a smaller city. She was brought up in a strict Jewish manner, with her dead father's wish to see his daughter marry a Jew.

With few potential Jewish husbands to choose from, Eugenia finally marries an understanding Cuban. Their two daughters are being raised in the Jewish faith. Without a synagogue, Eugenia has to piece the tradition together in part from stories her father told her. This is a very thoughtful film, easy to view with its large English subtitles. It is recommended for school and public libraries that emphasize Jewish, Latin American, or ethnic studies.