Cuban Jews reunite in Miami


From the Miami Herald:

”Our school is our pride . . . our Yiddish school should live eternally,” sang the first graduating class of Havana’s first and only Jewish high school. The year: 1959.

Fifty years later, they were singing the same song again — only this time in Miami Beach.

Many students from the Centro Israelita de Cuba graduating class have known each other since kindergarten and have experienced life milestones together — about five attend the same temple in Miami Beach and two are sisters-in-law. Their closeness matches the tight-knit bond forged by many Cuban-Jewish immigrants.

”I have friends that I’ve known for more than 60 years. We are like family in a way,” said Rosa Zipper, 67. “We still hug and kiss.”

Most of the class of 1959 reminisced Saturday over old photos and other artifacts at the reunion, which took place at the Cuban Hebrew Congregation, a large building with stained-glass framed by asymmetrical concrete squares, in Miami Beach. Ten from the class and about 100 others, including younger schoolmates and family members, attended the event. Fanny Bemoiras, 67, brought her 89-year-old mother, who was like a class-mom.

After the three-hour prayer service, the class sang its alma mater, which was written in Yiddish by Zipper’s father.

After receiving commemorative diplomas, many said Centro Israelita lives on through their friendships and memories — even though Fidel Castro shut it down, as well as other religious institutions, around 1961.

”It wasn’t the ending of our education, but the beginning of a lifetime of friendships,” Luis Feder, 67, said.

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