Following a visit to Cuba by a few young men, Chabad / Canadian Friends of Cuban Jewry (CFCJ) was founded in June of 1993 in the spirit of Ahavas Yisroel (“love your fellow Yid”), in order to lessen the difficult situation of Cuban Jews. Upon making contact with the Jewish community of Cuba, we have observed from near their need for social and material assistance. The remaining Jews in Cuba are lacking some basic necessities which we take for granted.
In the past 19 plus years (since the formal establishment of the CFCJ) we have visited them over 228! times, many of our visits coincide with the Jewish Holidays, whereby we bring the holiday spirit along with containers of much needed food, clothing, and medicine. We operate summer camps where the children are fed both materially and spiritually. We also distribute many pairs of Tefillin, Siddurim and Machzorim for our established Minyonim, and affix scores of Mezuzos to doorpost of Jewish homes. We have founded three libraries where our fellow Jews in Cuba can learn about their heritage. Over these many trips we have been involved in performing many Brissim, (circumcisions) for those who never had the chance to perform this mitzvah at the correct time, as well as, Bar Mitzvah celebrations for those over 13 years of age. We share priceless moments with our brethren in Cuba enjoying true Shabbos and Yom Tov, (holiday) experiences, and many happy occasions.
As part of CFCJ‘s Student Placement Program (SPP) we have been able to send young men and women from Cuba to foreign educational institutions, where they have the opportunity to learn and grow materially and spiritually.
We have been privileged to marry off a number of these young students that we sent abroad. Being that we – the CFCJ – are their financial parents, we helped them financially, prepare for their weddings and to set up their homes, so that they entered this new beginning of their life with spiritual and material security.
We also celebrated a few Bar-Mitzvas of Cuban boys. Preparing them for the big day with lessons, whereby giving them the structure to enter this era in their life with the proper knowledge and stability. And on the momentous occasion guiding them through the experience and providing the means for them to celebrate with family and friends.
CFCJ has learned over the years, of small pockets of Jews living throughout the interior of the island. After much research we established that there are Jews in at least 17! cities and towns across the island, to mention a few: Matanza, Cienfuegos, S. Clara, Remedio. Caibarien, S.Epitritus, Ciego de Avilla, Camagüey, Holguin, Antilla, Banes, Bayamo, Mantzenillo, Palma Soriano, Santiago Guantánamo, Campichuelo and others). Most of them have not been privileged to receive neither material nor spiritual assistance for years, maybe decades. Being that this is the mandate of CFCJ to reach out to every single Jew on the island, CFCJ has established a very personal connection with Jews living in these cities and towns, and has undertaken to provide them there basic needs around the year, and at this time of the year all their Passover needs.
At this time we would like to broaden the scope of our aid to the community on the island, such as frequent containers with the basic humanitarian aid, and more visits of our emissaries. We are aiming to take all of our activities to a higher level. We have seen much success, thank G-d, in the past, through the generosity of the international community. And we look forward to many more successes, with G-d’s help.