Multiple Diasporas: Jews in Cuba, Cuban Jews in Miami

Event information
Venue:FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus, Graham Center 150


The last Jew in Palma Soriano, Cuba, Jaime Gans Grin. Photograph by Humberto Mayol. Courtesy of Ruth Behar, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba (2007)

The Cuban Research Institute will hold a forum on the Cuban-Jewish experience in collaboration with FIU's Ruth K. and Shepard Broad Distinguished Lecture Series, the Latin American and Caribbean Center, the Department of Religious Studies, the Jewish Studies Initiatives, and the Jewish Museum of Florida. The forum will examine the history of the Jewish exodus to Cuba before the 1959 Revolution as well as the experience of Jews in Cuba and their resettlement in Miami after the Revolution.

The event will serve as a prelude to a keynote lecture by Dr. Scott Miller, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum director of curatorial affairs, at the Jewish Museum in Miami Beach on Sunday, May 18, at 2:00 PM, as part of the LACC/Jewish Studies Latin American Jewry Initiative at FIU. The topic of Dr. Miller's lecture will be the MS St. Louis, the German ship with 937 Jewish refugees that arrived in Havana harbor in 1939, but was never allowed to disembark.

The forum on "Multiple Diasporas" will gather several prominent experts on the Cuban-Jewish diaspora. The event will open with welcoming remarks by Dr. Jorge Duany, Director of the Cuban Research Institute. The first presentation by Dr. Margalit Bejarano, an Emeritus Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will focus on the Jewish community in Cuba before the Revolution. Dr. Bejarano is the author of several works on Cuban Jews, including La comunidad hebrea de Cuba: La memoria y la historia (1996).

Next, Dr. Ruth Behar, the Victor Haim Pereira Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, will speak about the Jewish community in Cuba after the Revolution. Dr. Behar is the author of the book An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba (2007) and director of the documentary Adio Kerida (2002).

In turn, Professor Caroline Bettinger-López, an Associate Professor at the University of Miami Law School, will discuss the development of the Cuban-Jewish community in Miami between 1959 and 1999. Professor Bettinger-López is the author of the book Cuban-Jewish Journeys: Searching for Identity, Home, and History in Miami (2000).

Finally, Professor Marcos A. Kerbel, an Adjunct Professor of Finance at FIU, will comment on the three presentations. Professor Kerbel is Past President and CEO of the Cuban Hebrew Congregation-Temple Beth Shmuel.