(JTA) — Leaders of Cuba’s Jewish community sent an open letter to the U.S. Jewish community calling for a strengthening of ties and expressing concern over a reversal of policy by the United States toward the island nation.
“The Jewish Community of Cuba, since its founding, has maintained ties of friendship and brotherhood and sisterhood with the Jewish people of the United States, even in moments when diplomatic relations between both countries did not exist,” said the letter issued Wednesday.
“North Americans played a substantial role in the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States, and some of them have even visited our synagogues in Havana. There is a permanent desire to promote the continual development of this relationship and to strengthen the benefits that are starting to take shape, mainly for our people,” the letter continued.
“Knowing that the Jewish communities and institutions of the United States have an interest in the relations with the Jewish people of the world, and especially towards Latin America, we request that we work together so that our countries do not go backwards in what has been accomplished and assure that the Cuban and American people enjoy a peaceful and prosperous future.”
Seven major Jewish leaders in Cuba signed the letter, including Adela Dworkin, the community’s president; David Prinstein, its vice president; leaders of the Sephardic center in Havana, and the country’s Jewish community coordinators.
Last month, President Donald Trump signed a presidential directive on Cuba limiting business and educational travel to Cuba and restricting commerce. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had lifted travel and commercial restrictions with Havana.
Havana has three operating synagogues, including one Orthodox. The government has been supportive of the community in recent years, with President Raul Castro attending Hanukkah ceremonies at Beth Shalom Synagogue, according to the Engage Cuba coalition, a nonprofit group working to end the trade and travel embargo of Cuba that is helping the Jewish community distribute its letter in the United States and get the word out.
The Jewish community of Cuba numbers about 1,000.