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Cuba's long forgotten Jewish cemetery, the Holocaust monument is restored



The oldest Jewish cemetery in Cuba for decades had fallen into disrepair.

Many Jewish families left the Communist country after the 1959 Revolution and left their dead according to Judaism.

But now it is a great effort to spruce it up. customs that prohibit bodies from being excited if they are not taken to their homeland in Israel. Others abandoned religious traditions among deep secularism that seized the first years of the Castro government or moved to Israel among the periodic economic crises of the following decades.

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"The people buried here fled fascism during the war. They are the founders of the community who bought these chips to do it to a cemetery, "writes David Prinstein, vice president of the Hebrew board, told the Associated Press. "It has historical and sentimental value."

  RECOMMEND THE NAME OF THE CORE - The portrait of a young Cuban soldier who died fought in the Korean War decorates his grave at a Jewish cemetery in Guanabacoa, eastern Havana, Cuba on June 7, 2019. Many Jewish families left the country after the 1959 revolution and left their kill in accordance with Jewish customs that prohibit bodies from being excited if they are not taken to Israel. (AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa)

RECOMMENDS THE NAME OF THE CHAM – The portrait of a young Cuban soldier who died fought in the Korean War decorates his grave at a Jewish cemetery in Guanabacoa, East Havana, Cuba on June 7, 2019. Many Jewish families left the country after the 1959 Revolution and left their dead in accordance with Jewish customs that forbid organs from being excited if they were not taken to Israel. (AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa)

About 50 of the 1,100 graves have been restored and a government head says they expect more than 150 to be completed before the end of the year.

The restoration of the Havana cemetery is part of the state-run city historian's office to spruce up Havana before the 500th anniversary of the founding in November and comes at a time when Cuba is in a difficult economic crisis, hit by the Trump administration's trade embargo and stopped for Venezuelan transports of subsidized fuel, leading to a lack of basic products such as chicken and flour.

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The eastern side of Havan ends up with the long-forgotten Jewish cemetery in Guanabocaoa's neighborhood, purchased by the island's first Hebrew community in 1906 and inaugurated in 1910 by Jews and their descendants from Europe. most fled persecution between World War I and II. Today only 1,500 Jews live on the island today, most of them older.

  Workers clean the top of a grave at the Jewish cemetery in Guanabacoa, eastern Havana, Cuba, June 12, 2019. Above the street is paved, the monuments are polished and historical sites are restored. (AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa)

Workers clean the top of a grave at the Jewish cemetery in Guanabacoa, eastern Havana, Cuba, June 12, 2019. Over the city, the streets are paved, the monuments are polished and historic sites are restored. (AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa)

"I feel very good peace and quiet when I visit the cemetery …. For me it is like being with my mother, my only sister and my nephew," says Adela Dworin, chairman of the Hebrew board in Cuba , standing next to a grave adorned with small stones used by Jews to pay tribute to the dead.

The stones, which are believed to symbolize eternity, lie close to inscriptions with the names of the buried. Many have consolations written in Yiddish or Spanish and adorned with the Star of David.

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And the cemetery also has a 10-foot monument that pays homage to the six million Jews who died during the Holocaust.

Associated Press contributed to this report.


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