The Last Jews of Cuba

Parents participate in their daughter’s bat mitzvah inside the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Havana, Cuba.

Photo: Jonathan Alpeyrie

Before Castro’s revolution, there were roughly 15,000 Jews living in Cuba. Today, there are just about 1,500. For the decades in between, there was no rabbi on the island and just one kosher butcher. “To be Cuban and Jewish is to be twice survivors,” historian Maritza Corrales explained to The New York Times. It was that determination that attracted photographer Jonathan Alpeyrie, who has travelled the world documenting distant Jewish enclaves, to visit Havana and capture what remains of the community many believe landed with Christopher Columbus. On commission from the Anastasia Gallery, he spent much of his time at the Beth Shalom Temple, one of the largest on the island, as well as the Sefaradi Synagogue, photographing the traditions of the local congregations.

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