BERKLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Alan Phillip Gross
Still Jailed In Cuba
David Tacher, leader of the
Santa Clara Jewish community,
made this Holocaust monument
music, sustainable living, education
or medicine — even pre-1960 classic
cars, which abound in Cuba because
most Cubans were forbidden to pur-
chase new cars and American cars
were embargoed by the U.S.
"We take people to our home away
from home Whitesman said."We
are hands-on from start to finish. We
meet with individuals and come up
with new people and places to vise
Now they are about to reach another
milestone: the first kosher group tour to
Cuba since the 1950s.
"There is a kosher butcher in Cuba,
but ifs for Cubans, not visitors, and it
is not certified to the satisfaction of the
very Orthodox:' Whitesman said, add-
ing that she knows only one Cuban who
keeps strictly kosher, the president of
the Jewish community.
She felt bad when she had Orthodox
participants on her tours; they would
load their luggage with canned and
packaged food and aluminum foil to
cook the limited foods they were able
For the kosher endeavor, the women
joined forces with Hersh Taubenfeld of
Aventura, Fla., who has longtime expe-
rience leading kosher tours and cruises,
and Ben Greszes, an Orthodox Cuban
Jew from Long Island with a keen sense
of the Orthodox community's needs.
They all met with managers of the
Melia hotel chain and convinced them
that a kosher option would be success-
Alan Phillip Gross was arrested in Cuba
in December 2009 while working as a
subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID) in
a democracy-building program.
In 2011, a Washington Post story says,
he was prosecuted for crimes against the
Cuban state for bringing satellite phones
and computer equipment to Cuba's
Jewish community without the permit
required under Cuban law. He is serving
a 15-year sentence in Havana.
Gross is Jewish and a resident of
There also was a claim that Gross
was "contracted to work for American
intelligence services" — a charge denied
by the U.S. government, according to a
Washington Post story.
A New York Times story explained
that a stalemate exists "in which officials
from each country blame their counter-
parts for his continued imprisonment:'
A Miami Herald story says that Cuba
outlaws U.S. pro-democracy efforts, and
says the case has been a stumbling block
to improving relations between the two
Meanwhile, Gross' family says the
64-year-old's health is deteriorating, and
that he has lost more than 100 pounds
since his arrest.
In April, a Miami Herald story said
Secretary of State John Kerry stated
the U.S. government will not swap five
Cuban spies held in the U.S. for Gross,
but will push toward his release as a
ful because Jewish groups form such a
large percentage of travelers to Cuba.
One of the restaurants at Melia La
Habana will be certified kosher and
cholov Yisrael (dairy products under
kosher supervision) by Rabbi Levi
Teitlebaum, director of the Ottawa Vaad
Hakashrut. It will serve Other Cuban
Journeys' kosher travelers exclusively.
The inaugural Glatt Kosher
Mission to Cuba will be Dec. 9-16, at
a cost of $4,995 per person based on
double occupancy. The price includes
roundtrip air from Miami, hotel accom-
modations, all meals and more.
The non-kosher trips start at $3,990
It is not too late to secure a spot
on this trip, but space is limited.
Paperwork and full payment are due by
Oct 6. Whitesman and Saul plan to do
more kosher trips in 2014. They also
will do custom trips for synagogues and
For more information on travel to
Cuba, visit Other Cuban Journeys' web-
site at wwwothercubanjourneys.com .
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September 19 • 2013 11