No Todos Nos Fuimos:
Oral Histories from the Cuban Jewish Community

“No Todos Nos Fuimos [Not All of Us Left]” will be a one hour documentary exploring the history, memory, and everyday lives of the Cuban Jewish community in their own words. By interweaving oral histories, archival images, home movies, voice overs of memoirs and poetry, and trips through Jewish neighborhoods old and new, the film will chronicle recurring waves of community-building and diaspora.

Project History

The originators of “No Todos Nos Fuimos” were members of El Patronato Community Center in Havana - such as Lourdes Albo Puentes, Adela Dworin, and Dr. José Miller. They felt that it was urgent to begin recording the memories of “los de tercer edad” [the senior citizens], as they were the last surviving members of the community who had lived through, and could remember, the bulk of its history. This sentiment was supported by younger members of the congregation - such as Liver Maya, Deborah Bradman, and Alberto Popovsky - who felt such a project would be a valuable legacy for their generation, many of whom grew up without ever being exposed to this history.

New York-based director Miriam Greenberg became involved after travelling to Cuba in 1998 as a translator on the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s [JDC] medical aid mission. Once she found out about the oral history project, she volunteered to coordinate the effort, and was provided with initial start-up funds by the JDC. Since then she has worked with members of El Patronato to record over 60 hours of oral histories with members of the community around Havana — including El Patronato, Chevet Achim, and Adath Yisroel congregations —
as well as across the island — including Santa Clara, Camaguey, and Santiago de Cuba. She is working now to weave these into a documentary film, and to create a permanent video archive at El Patronato.

Project Themes

The interviews cover the following historical themes:

• The early waves of immigration from the United States, Turkey, Syria, and Eastern and Western Europe, in the terms of the forces driving them and the experience of discovering Cuba.

• The economic, political, and cultural life of the earliest “barrios Judios,” [Jewish neighborhoods], such as Havana Vieja, and how they developed in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s.

• The experience of WWII, in terms of the shock of hearing about the Holocaust, the response of the community, and the arrival of the refugees at that time

• The post-WWII economic boom, when many Jews were able to move into middle class neighborhoods and build new synagogues.

• The impact of the Cuban Revolution after which 90% of the community left for the U.S, Latin America, and Israel -- how this was experiened by those who left, and those who stayed behind.

• The aftermath of the Revolution, in terms of the new life those who emigrated created in Miami, and the efforts of those who stayed “to keep the candle of the community lit” in the face of many difficulties.

• The period after 1989, when religious restrictions were loosened in Cuba, and since when what some call a “renacimiento” [rebirth] of Jewish traditions and education has occured

Within these broad historical parameters, “No Todos Nos Fuimos” seeks to be as representative as possible, gathering oral histories from Ashkenazis and Sephardis; orthodox, conservative, reform, and secular Jews; men and women; and those to the right, left, and center of the political spectrum. And while the majority of the interviewees are members of the older generation, we seek the perspective of those of the second and third generation as well.

Cinematic Approach

The oral histories themselves take place in people’s homes as well as in places of historical significance to the Cuban Jewish community, such as synagogues, old Jewish neighborhoods, and the sites of old cultural organizations and schools. In addition, through voiceovers the film will incorporate a wealth of poetry and prose produced by the community in a number of Cuban Jewish newspapers, publications, and personal memoirs. Both the interviews and voiceovers will be intercut with archival footage including: photographs, home movies, newsreels, newspaper articles, maps, and other important documents.


After taking three trips to Cuba, and shooting 60 hours of footage, Miriam Greenberg is now working on editing a final cut of the film.

How you can help

In order to make No Todos Nos Fuimos a reality, we desperately need your help! This production is a volunteer effort completely funded through individual donations and grants, and any contribution you might be able to offer, large or small, would be deeply appreciated. In addition, any information about people who would be important to interview, or about photographs, home movies, poetry, memoirs, articles, stories, or anything else that would enrich the piece, would be very helpful. Contact Miriam Greenberg at

Background of the director

Miriam Greenberg has been an independent documentary producer and video teacher for many years, with a particular interest in oral histories. This began with a project gathering oral histories from the longtime residents of East Palo Alto, California, which was ultimately made into the award-winning documentary, East Palo Alto: Dreams of a City. She also spent five years helping to create the El Puente Media and Technology Center in the Puerto Rican and Dominican neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There she worked with young people to produce videos on a topics ranging from youth culture to lead poisoning, which aired on public access and PBS stations nationwide. She is also pursuing her doctorate in Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center, and is Assistant Professor in Media and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute.