BJC Cuba America Mission – November 29-December 10, 2016
BJC CUBA Mission December 2016 Itinerary
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.
The rabbi addressed the release of Alan Gross. Cuba support mission in a recent call to action, reproduced below:
Freedom! The Greatest Gift of Hanukkah
Today, after many long years, we welcome the historic steps taken by President Obama on normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. The humanitarian release of Alan Gross by the Cuban government along with the release of the three Cuban prisoners, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, and Ramón Labañino, by the Obama administration moves the roadblocks that have held back progress in improving relations between our two countries for far too long.
Rabbi Elhanan Sunny Schnitzer, who in addition to serving as the spiritual leader of Bethesda (MD) Jewish Congregation, is also President of the Cuba America Jewish Mission, joined this past November in a series of meetings with government officials both in Cuba and in Washington. Along with the Reverend John L. McCullough, president and chief executive officer of Church World Service; and Rev. Grady Parsons of Presbyterian Church (USA); we emphasized the humanitarian reasons for the release of Alan Gross and the three Cuban prisoners.
We are pleased to have played a small role in hastening the day of the release of these men through our meetings with representatives of both governments and our partnership with the Cuban Council of Churches.
The announcement today by President Obama is a great step forward in allowing us greater freedom and effectiveness in our work with the Jewish communities of Cuba, and eases the suffering of the family members and friends of these prisoners. We are grateful that the light of freedom associated with Hanukkah shines a little brighter today for Cubans, Americans, and all of humanity.