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Cuban Jewish leader Rousso dies

Isaac Rousso, president of the only B’nai B’rith lodge in communist Cuba, has died.

Rousso, 70, led Maimonides Lodge #1516 in Havana for nearly eight years, turning it into one of Cuba’s strongest international organizations, said Stanley Cohen, chairman of the B’nai B’rith Cuban Jewish Relief Project.

“It was a huge loss to everyone who knew him,” Cohen told JTA by phone from Pittsburgh. “The organization went from practically no members to 78 members in the time Isaac was active in B’nai B’rith.”

Among other things, B’nai B’rith publishes a monthly community newspaper, Fragmentos, at its new office on the fifth floor of Havana’s Centro Sefaradi. It also organizes Hebrew classes, holiday parties and occasional weekend retreats.

Rousso, who died Sunday night after a long battle with cancer, is survived by his wife and two daughters, one of whom lives in Cuba and the other in Israel.

 

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