Five Towns Helps Upgrade Cuban Kashrus
Adeth Israel of Cuba
Last week a number of people from the Lawrence Jewish community traveled to Cuba and provided essential assistance to the Jewish community there. Apparently, the Shechita capabilities of the community were severely limited due to the lack of adequate refrigeration facilities in which the meat could be kept.
The group davened in the only Orthodox synagogue in Cuba, located in Havana.
There are between 1500 and 2000 Jews now in Cuba. Most of them are of Polish-Jewish descent. Their lives are of abject poverty like most Cubans. The average income of most of them are between $20 and $40 per month.
Kosher meat and poultry has not been available since the 1950’s. However, quite recently Yakob Berezniak who acts as the Chazzan and Rav of the Orthodox Kehillah of Cuba “Adath Israel of Cuba” traveled to Israel and was trained as a shochet.
The shochet was now available, the animals are available, but nonetheless, a viable Shechita was unable to be created on account of the refrigeration issue.
That is where six members of our local community stepped in. These people investigated the kashrut, its quality and what could be done to upgrade the volume of Shechita without compromising quality. They were able to arrange for a refrigeration room that could accommodate the community’s needs.
“Aaron went because it was a Mitzvah and adventurous,” remarked Abbie Spetner. “I went because my father had been a Lietenant in the US Army during World War II in Cuba. When he was there he taught them about Purim. He held a Seder. I grew up with stories about Cuba and Guatanamo Bay, and how my father was in a position to do Kiruv there. When I heard that there was a group going, I jumped at the chance.”
Thanks to these people a new era for kashrus in Cuba is on the horizon. The six members of the group that went are; Aaron Abadi, Yitz Adler, Avi Atlas, Dovid Bodenheim, Aroni Parnes and Abbie Spetner. A seventh member from Los Angeles joined them as well.