Florida – Cuban Jews React to Obama’s Intentions

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    Cuban American Temple  Beth Shmuel, Miami, Fla.Florida – President Barack Obama fulfilled a campaign promise last month when he lifted both family travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans visiting the island and the cap on how much money they can send to their relatives. Cuban President Raul Castro has also said that he’s interested in meeting with Obama, who has wanted to open up dialogue between both countries.

    Members of the South Florida Cuban Jewish community discussed how they feel about Obama’s continued intentions for the island.

    “There are a lot of individuals who have been living here for many years who want to see their families,” said Marcos Kerbel, 62, who came to the United States on the Pedro Pan Exodus and is the president of Temple Beth Shmuel-Cuban Hebrew Congregation in Miami Beach. “They have elderly parents and grandparents who need medicine and food and therefore you also have to understand the needs of those individuals.”

    The lifting of the restrictions made it possible for Mary Golobovich, Kerbel’s friend, to fly to Cuba rather quickly in order to arrive just a few minutes before the funeral of her mother earlier this month. Golobovich’s husband, Moises, a 63-year-old Miami Beach resident, commented on what it meant for his wife to go to her mother’s funeral.

    “Just put yourself in her situation — she’s the only child, her mother was 90 years ago, and we’ve been living here almost 30 years, and all of sudden they call her and say that her mother passed away,” he said. “The first reaction for her was ‘I’ve got to go.’ We went to the airport and we saw there was a flight available and we saw there was a possibility.”

    Fabio Nick, a 65-year-old North Miami Beach resident, is already making plans to visit Cuba with his children.

    “I just have to work it around their schedule but it definitely looks like it’s going to be this year and if everything goes well we’ll be looking around October or November, sometime after the hurricane season,” he said.

    Bernardo Benes, a 74-year-old Surfside resident, said he feels that all Americans should be allowed to go to Cuba while Carlos Waserstein, a 65-year-old Aventura resident, said it should only be families visiting each other. Robert Oberstein of North Miami Beach said the lifting of restrictions has both its good and bad points and Manny Fainstein of Miramar said he’s absolutely all for it.

    “After 50 years, nothing of magnitude has changed except that the Castro brothers have tightened their grip on the republic of Cuba, so anything that might help loosen the tightening of that grip is welcoming,” Fainstein said.

    Castro said last month that he wants to discuss everything with Obama, including human rights, political prisoners and press freedom despite his brother and predecessor Fidel blasting the U.S. president. Although Oscar White, an 81-year-old Sunny Isles Beach resident, said there will never be a relationship between the two countries, Benes feels both sides should open up dialogue.

    “I think they should get together and find areas where each country and its people can benefit,” Benes said.

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    12 COMMENTS

    1. This is a no-brainer…there has been nothing gained by these stupid trade and travel restrictions the Republicans felt were needed to keep the Cuban voters in Florida happy. We should repeal ALL these rules now. If its ok to trade with China, Russia, Libya, Syria etc., than there is no reason to restrict cuba.

        • You make a good point. However, back then the issue was that intelligence showed that Cuba was allowing Russia to set up missile launch sites on their soil.

          The reason not one president (dem or repub) was willing to lift the embargo is because we would appear weak… that our policy had failed. It would make a hero out of Castro (either one).

          This continues to be one of the toughest geopolitical questions of our time.

          • my comment was aimed at #1 who writes ” stupid trade and travel restrictions the Republicans felt were needed to keep the Cuban voters in Florida happy”.

    2. The U.S. boycott of cuba has always given the Arab countries an excuse to cite for their efforts to boycott Ey based on “political” considerations.

    3. If this new policy makes it easier for yiddin to visit Cuba and provide support to the Jewish community there, it would be a goood thing for all. Anything we can do to economically support klal yisroel anywhere in the world they are supressed is a big mitzvah.

    4. what about invading cuba making it the 52nd state of the union and making it the only state that the chief language is in spanish only and change the farce thats going on in all the rest of the country

    5. it would seem that anonymous is another one of those yidden that his sold his neshama to the party… not the democrat party… the socialist and communist internationale!!! What a joke, the Arabs use it as an excuse? Or isn’t Castro’s natural anti-Semitism cause for a natural unholy alliance between Cuba, Venezuela, Arab countries, Iran, etc.? What a histroical rewrite. not omly was Kennedy a Democrat but he started the embargo when Cuban residents in Florida were only exiles and not voters or citizens of the US.
      Let’s talk honestly, unfortunately a few of these ‘so called’ leaders of Jewish groups, as well as others that visit for “humanitarian reasons” have been caught and blackmailed by Cuban agents that taped their perverse actions in Cuba in the illicit Cuban sex trade (that includes children). Could this be the reason why anonymous wants to get to Cuba so quickly?

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