The present texts are my project for a documentary-movie. The idea came after a book I did in union with Eugenia Farin and published in Cuba in 2006. The book was "Atlas del Judaismo en Cuba" (Judaism in Cuba through maps). ISBN: 978-959-11-0633-9.
All the texts here are under a copyright according to the United State legislation dedicated to Author Rights. Any part of the present document reproduced or used without me taking part of it is against the law. If any of you has interest in this information that i am publishing here, please send me a message.
Conrado Rafael Perez Maleta' © 2014
New York City, USA
The Cubans and the Jews
Jews and Cuba is a documentary that explores in a parallel and simultaneous way the “in-out” relations between Judaism (and therefore the Jews) and the Cuban nation. The often curious and always unsuspected ties established between both parts is exposed through an historical chronicle atmosphere. Making a narrative trip, the Jewish community serves as a protagonist revealing the various facts and moments in which members of the Hebrew people were involved with the Cuban cause of all ages up to form an inseparable part of the great national mosaic.
Jews and Cuba is performed following a circular path, starting geographically from New York and on the trail of those benefactors of Cuban independence in the nineteenth century. Following the natural development of the historical incidents the narration leads us in a real time journey through the material heritage bequeathed by the Jewish people to the islanders and its vicissitudes in social and political processes of the twentieth century. Who are the Cuban Jews? Where are they and how it is possible to identify them inside the Cuban national scenery? Are their connections with the Cuban identity dissolved after their return to Israel or not? How they feel and act according to their generational positions and familiar memory? The different anxieties and dilemmas that are left uncovered in the Holy Land after the first wave of “Alia” in the 90s lead back the story to American soil where the documentary finds a closing thread after the testimony of those Cubans who today call themselves “Jewbanos”. Fruits of a long synthesis of the Cuban experiences and the Hebrew spiritual identifications.
Notes for writing the movie Script:
(Cuba) Medium and large shots with approaches to hundreds of Cuban flags floating in the air, in different places, always floating. Some Jewish Music and Cuban percussion as soundtrack.
- Shot G, the Cuban flag in the city of Cardenas, the first place where it was rised up. A voice in off explains that the first Cuban flag was hoisted by a Jew. The personality of Schelsinger as a romantic hero of XIX century.
The voice of a very wise and impressive Master Mason, which is inside the Grand Lodge of Havana explains the symbolism of the Cuban flag and associations to the Temple of Solomon, the symbolic connection between Judaism and Cuban flag.
(Israel). Hebrew Music going in crescendo. Some shots of important places in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The sacred Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. A visit to headquarters of Zionist Organization. Cuba as one of first countries recognizing Israel as state. Cubans in the early Israel time. The personality of Haim Hayet and the Cuban connection with left-party politicians in the Holy Land.
[optional part here] A visit to the christian sanctuary of Nazareth can show one big reproduction of the Cuban virgin of Caridad del Cobre who has a very special place in the shrine.
Meeting to L. M., a young Cuban man driving in his car to Ra'anana and talking about the Cuban diaspora in Israel and how the Cuban community had to adapt to this new culture and country, new rules. The Taglit Project and the waves of aliyot to Israel. Discovering the country via the car. Being a Jew in Cuba is completely different than being a Jew in Israel. Liber enters his home and prepares a brew of coffee. Relaxed he explains his documentary project about baseball teams of Cuban people residing in Israel. What baseball means for him. Is he a kosher person? Does he see himself as a Cuban-Jew or a Jewish-Cuban? Some views of his apartment and through the window, (voice in off) some music and news on the radio. The wind moves the curtain to cover the window.
(Cuba) [Transition]. The wind moves the curtains of a window and the camera shows a general view of houses, buildings in Havana, noise, smoke, chaos is found.
A man comes out of a building and the camera follows him, looking at Havana through his perspective, entering a hallway, passing a car in a sunny day of Cuba, the man boards a bus, sweaty faces.
Walking down the street Linea and goes up to 17, going to the Synagogue of Patronage. Details of the architecture in the city. Is there any detail that can lead us to Judaism and or Cuban culture? Any symbols? Any names? A voice in off explains where we are, who the Jews are for Cubans, asking people in the streets “What do you know about the Jews? Have you ever known any Jew?” The Beth Shalom building, who did it and how it was divided. Who is using it now. Why was this building erected as the Patronage and what are the activities that are running now? Relevant personalities visiting the place. Archive of documents and photos of what was the patronage before 1959 and the 90's. A walk in the Beth Shalom synagogue. Adela Dworin explains on camera when and why the patronage was divided and became what it is now, pictures of the current Theater and bar. (As seen above in photos).
The Sephardi Synagogue of Vedado, a walk inside, conversations abut the place. The tropical fruits and the Cuban adaptation of Jewish parties. Rosh Hashana in Cuba. Yom Kipur in Cuba. Interview in the Sephardi center offices. At same time, a group of women is doing exercises, mirrors, men with very heavy weights are being seen in the gym at the basement of the synagogue. Environment. The director of the Synagogue explains how and why the Turkish-speaking Jews arrived to Cuba. As part or after the interview, animated map with the travel of the first Jews who immigrated to the island (We can also use prints of that time if existing)
The graphic map as a transition. Adela Dworin explains the arrival of the first European and American Jews. Adela is being interviewed in her office. What was the social status of the first Jews who arrived to Havana? What Synagogue in Cuba among the totals was build first. Who was the first Rabbi? Which one is the oldest cemetery? Which are the contributions to Cuban culture brought by the Jewish communities? Visiting the Adath Israel Synagogue in Havana Vieja we talk about the architect who designed it, in what year, the original name of the different synagogues in Cuba and their new names. Eusebio Leal talks about Cuban Jews.
Night life I Havana. Young Jews of Havana going out. In parallel a sabbath diner in any of the Cuban synagogues. The theater of Bertolt Brecht in the lateral of Patronage. Lights and close-ups of people dancing and screaming. A theater function.
(USA) The Cuban connection. Who helps and helped to the re-born of Cuban Judaism? Interview with Alan Boss and learning about the island through his eyes. Who is who in contemporary community? Alan Boss and other philanthropic actions after the re-born of 90's. What they did and do for Cuban Judaism? Why? Where? How? Did they support the new diaspora? Do they see the Cubans in Israel as Israelis or still perceive them as Cubans. The outside vision of the phenomena.
(Israel) [Transition]. Color photos at home with any proud mother who shows her children in Israel. She speaks with some touch of nostalgia. A Jewish family in Cuba and now in Israel. Visiting the family in Israel who is doing all well. They live peacefully and not many things can be noticed about their condition of islanders. (Filming the daily living) They take their children to school, goes to work, everyday life of a family. The friends, a meeting of Cubans in Israel. With some brief interviews they remember the patronage and activities taking place. the food made by their mothers, still in the island. Some of their family members are living now in USA. They talk about the 3 places of Cuban Jews today.
Making an interview to a very atypical family. The Arison family. The half-Cuban generation of Arison's. Their connection with USA. Do they feel Cubans? Do they feel Jews? Are they jewbanos? Have they visited the island?
Cheerful music. Sunrise in Jerusalem, the streets are mixed with rituals, Rosh Hashana in Israel. Sunset in Tel Aviv.
Meeting an underground Havana artist of living in Jaffo. The sister is in Havana and she is a very well known out-of-the-system artist here, she is M. Z. She has doubts about moving to USA. The artist's house looks like in Centro-Habana, the walls, the furniture, the atmosphere. Her hair moves with the hot air. In the background There is a sound of a mosque calling for prayers. She shares a funny gaze with the camera. Through M. Z. we can see the most successful integration of a Cuban born to the Israeli life. She speaks perfectly hebrew, she knows a lot about the country, she has friends and relationship with Jews from all over the world in preference with the Cubans. Does She miss something?
Meeting an Israel born, famous artist in the village of Ein Hod near Haifa. Talking to Nehama Levendel about Cuba. She was there for almost a year. She knew people from top-of-the-system to common pedestrians. She did some ceremonies with vudu'. How does she see the island? Did She love it? Is She planning to go back? Why? When? She talks about very impressive experiences about Cuban cemeteries, non-Jewish cemeteries of the island.
[Transition] The burnt hills of Mount Carmel. The dry hills of Santiago de Cuba.
(Cuba) Cemetery. A man explains about the graves pointing at them and cleaning them, reading names and maybe telling some interesting histories. Very neglected cemetery.
Santiago de Cuba, (we have Israeli music dedicated to Santiago de Cuba in hebrew) A Cuban surgeon speaks about the hundreds of men circumcised in the hospital where he was working in 90's. Talking about the passing time. Why Santiago have closed the Synagogue? The surgeon can talk about the community in the 90's, who were they and also he can talk about them in their childhood and youth. The Jews of Santiago during the revolution time.
Someone tells (providing historical data) the history of the Jews in Santiago de Cuba in the voice of Eugenia Farin (if she is in Israel then in Israel, if not in Cuba) or through Rebeca Botton Behar (who was one of the top Zionist women of the 90's in the world and today she is living in USA). Centers and businesses they had in Santiago. Visiting the synagogue in Santiago. Funny and mystical stories about the place. The “miracle” of reopening the Aron Hakodesh. Santiago de Cuba as a city of heroes and brave people. Independence war, Jews with the 26 of July movement of Castro.
(USA) [Transition Tampa]. (as well as Key West) Interview with director of the Cuban museum in Tampa dedicated to the war of independence and Cuban cigar. The Jews and the war of independence of Cuba. Jose Marti and the team of lawyers from New York who represented and pushed up the Cuban independence. The synagogue Isaac Abravanel and the baseball games created as fund raising for the libertarian warriors of the island.
Interview with a wealthy Jewish family in Miami. How was the Jewish world in Cuba before the Revolution? Which part of the past still remains in the collective memory of Miami? How was the 50s in the island? Relevant families, business and institutions that they remember in Havana. Historical info, photos, a particular anecdote. Did they know that some Jews helped the 26 of July in their fights against Batista? Which part of the old Jewish life in Cuba they wish coming back?
Meeting a contemporary jewbano in Miami. Whats is the meaning today of being a jewbano? Meeting a Cuban-american Rabbi in Florida.
Miami, the afro-cuban religiosity in Miami. Do they have Jewish spirits in use there?
(Cuba) The Jewish Cemeteries in Havana. Hebrew music and Cuban percussion as soundtrack in background. Interview with anthropologist Natalia Bolívar about Jewish witchcraft. Why Jewish spirits are used for the strongest and most powerful magician works in the Afro Santeria of Cuba? Stealing land and bones from Jewish cemeteries. Is it real? Meeting the Afro priests in Havana. A young Babalao explains how this witchcraft is done. Graveyard Earth and names of ancestors. A visual parallel between the sacrifice of a cock or chicken in the afro religions and in Yom Kipur.
[Transition]. The sacrifice of a kosher cow in Havana and the butcher explains how the meat is distributed to the few remaining Jews. One of them leads us to his house in Old Havana. At home, he talks about his family, as they arrived and settled in Cuba. Old photos but we will get and atmosphere full of optimism. This man is going to a religious service in Adath Israel synagogue in Old Havana. Where is the Rabbi? Talking about the Rabbi (because they don’t have any one) Discovering the rabbinate in Cuba. Who were them and who are they now. If, an interview with the Rabbi that goes to Cuba every 6 months.
(Israel) [Transition]. Baseball team in Israel, playing the game, ending the game. Cerveceros team taking a break, food and conversation. It is nostalgia time. Where is Cuba?
An old man closes the Torah in a synagogue in Cuba. Wrapping the roll in a cloth and keeping it in a sacred place.
Conrado Rafael Perez Maleta' ©