Canadian Jewish Congress:
40 years of support to Cuban Jewry

In March 2000, the Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario region (CJC), continued a tradition of chesed that it has maintained for almost 40 years.

On March 31 a Cubana Airlines plane took off from Montreal's Mirabel airport carrying Passover foodstuffs to the Jewish community in Cuba. A second plane departed on the following day to complete the shipment. In all, almost 10,000 kilograms (more than 20,000 pounds) of food, including wine, matzoh, fish and cooking oil were transported in time for distribution to Jewish families throughout the Republic of Cuba.

CJC's commitment to this humanitarian effort began after the 1961 revolution and has continued to this day. The motivation for this annual effort can be found in the pages of the Passover Haggadah, the narration of the exodus from Egypt that is a central piece of the festival. The liturgy of Passover impels Jews to ensure that all who are hungry have a place at the traditional seder table.

This year's effort was highlighted by the significant cooperation and assistance that CJC received from the Government of the Republic of Cuba. In previous years, transportation was split between air and sea in order to reduce costs. This year, the Cuban government offered to transport 4000 kilograms free of charge and to considerably discount the remainder of the shipment. The generosity of the Cuban government ensured that our friends in Cuba received this important shipment in plenty of time to ensure proper distribution.

CJC is proud to be a part of an ongoing relationship with the Jewish community in Cuba and is particularly grateful for the opportunity to work closely with communal representatives like Dr. Jose Miller and Adela Dworin (of the Casa de la Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba, Patronato) and to partner with the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, a US-based human rights organization which provides an annual donation to purchase additional foodstuffs for shipment to Cuba.

Len Rudner, Director
Community Relations
Canadian Jewish Congress
Ontario Region

Photo above by Edward Regan, Toronto Globe and Mail, March 20, 1998, shows Moshe Ronen, left, Chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress Ontario Region, and fellow volunteers Dani Fine, center, and Bernie Farber loading Passover supplies destined for Cuba.

(Note to CJC members who have participated in these trips: we would like to feature several photographs of your activities along with this article. Please contact us if you have some photos you would like to share.)