(JTA) — Leaders of Cuba’s Jewish community met with jailed American contractor Alan Gross on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.
Adele Dworin, president of the Hebrew Community of Cuba, and David Prinstein, vice president of the Patronato of the Jewish Community of Cuba, had a two-hour visit with Gross on Sept. 28, the Miami Herald reported. They ate honey cake with coffee and tea, the visitors told the newspaper.
Gross, who has lost nearly 100 pounds due to chronic illness, described his physical condition as "good," Dworin told the newspaper.
Gross, 62, is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba for “crimes against the state” for distributing laptop computers and connecting Cuban Jews to the Internet. He was arrested in 2009 as he was leaving Cuba and accused of being a spy.
Gross’ family and U.S. State Department officials say that Gross was in the country on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to help the country’s 1,500 Jews communicate with other Jewish communities using the Internet. The main Jewish groups in Cuba have denied any contact with or knowledge of Gross or the program.
His family had hoped he would be released on humanitarian grounds in time for Rosh Hashanah.
Gross’ daughter has breast cancer and his mother was diagnosed with cancer as well.