Bethesda Jewish Congregation members have been supporting Jewish congregations and communities in Cuba with donations and annual visits since 2003. Jewish communities in Cuba have substantial needs, and BJC's support has helped literally hundreds of Cuban community members with food, clothing, necessities, repair and maintenance of synagogues, and in other ways.
Because of BJC's support, the BJC name is known throughout the entire Jewish community in Cuba.
- Cuba Mission 2012 flyer
- Maryland General Assembly Official Citation
- Cuba Mission 2011 Report
- Cuba Mission 2011 flyer
- Cuba Mission 2010 Report
You can join the next February visit and contribute to the mission. See the Cuba Mission flyer and call the BJC Office for details.
The rabbi addressed the Cuba support mission in a recent call to action, reproduced below:
Kriat haRav – The Rabbi’s Call
When is enough, enough?
In the High Holiday liturgy we read; "U'tshuvah, U'tfilah, U'tsedkah... Repentence, Prayer, and Charity – avert the evil decree." In our liturgy we declare emphatically that we can change the world through our own actions in ways that are positive and life affirming.
The Torah tells us that "God created man in His own image" (Bereisheet 1:27). The Chofetz Chaim comments that "image of God" means that humankind has the ability to emulate the Divine. Performing acts of kindness reflects one of God's attributes.
If we think: "I have done enough" or even "Why should I help others?" we alienate ourselves from Godliness.
The very survival of humanity depends on kindness. Every person, without exception, needs the help of a fellow human being. The prophet Michah (6:8) tells us, "... What does God require of you, but to act justly, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God." Kindness is something we must do. It helps our fellow human being, helps the world get one more step closer to perfection, and raises our level of spirituality.
And we must stay with it even if we are tired, or our resources depleted, or our patience near exhaustion. In truth there is rarely "enough."
The Hebrew word "tzedakah" is commonly translated as "charity." But this is misleading. True tzedakah, true charity implies that your heart motivates you to go beyond the call of duty. There's a basic human responsibility to reach out to others. The ultimate righteous act is to make a statement that says "I will do whatever I can to help." A true "tzaddik," is a righteous person, someone who fulfills all their obligations, whether in the mood or not.
Some of our members have asked me; "why do you keep taking groups from BJC to Cuba?" It is too far, the cost too high, not enough of us can go. My answer, as always, is, "if we will not go, who will go up for us?"
In Cuba little BJC makes a huge difference. Because of our work there are literally hundreds of people who are a little better fed, a little better off, and a little more connected to the outside world, in a place where those conditions are enjoyed by few. The name of our congregation is known throughout the Jewish community of the entire island. And because of our commitment, the Jews of Cuba have deepened their commitment to remaining a vital part of the Jewish people.
In Feb., another group of BJC members and friends will return to Cuba. On this trip we will, for the first time, visit Santiago and Guantanamo as well as all of the communities we have visited before. We will deliver food, medical and personal hygiene supplies, as well as new siddurim and other Hebrew books.
I hope that everyone in the congregation, whether going with us or not, will take this great work to heart and take pride in our role in re-establishing the Jewish community in Cuba. If you'd like to join us on our mission, read the information contained in this newsletter and please call me in my office, soon.
Maybe we can't fix the entire world but we do make a difference in this little corner of it.
And as we know from our Talmud; "a person who saves one life, it is as if that person saves the entire world."
L'shanah Tovah Tikateivu v'Tikateimu, May you be inscribed and sealed for the good.