October 13, 1995

Cuban synagogue joins Conservatives

HAVANA (JTA) -- The Centro Hebreo Sefaradi of La Havana, Cuba, has become the second Cuban congregation to affiliate with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

In a ceremony held this past July, Dr. Jose Miller, president of the Patronato Synagogue of Havana -- which last year became the first Cuban Conservative congregation -- welcomed the new synagogue as a partner in the task of reviving Jewish life and tradition in Cuba.

Two days later, in Santiago de Cuba, a group of Cuban Jews, joined by a large delegation from the Miami Jewish community, the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, and representatives of the Cuban government, gathered to rededicate the Sanctuary of the Hatikvah Congregation.

Rabbi Shmuel Szteinhandler of Chile, representing The United Synagogue, brought siddurim, tallitot, kippot, a ner tamid and other ritual articles necessary to establish the new congregation.

The Sefer Torah entered the sanctuary under a chuppah held by prominent members of the Cuban Jewish community. Rabbi Szteinhandler covered his head with his tallit and blew the shofar. Witnesses said it was a sound heard for the first time in 30 years in Santiago.

"These joyous events in the Cuban Jewish community demonstrate the vitality of the emerging Conservative Jewish presence in Cuba," said Alan Ades, international president of the USCJ.

(c) 1995, San Francisco Jewish Community Publications Inc., dba Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission.