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12/04/13 -  Progreso Weekly (Miami) - Hanukkah in Havana 

HAVANA - Radio Progreso Alternativa (RPA)/Progreso Weekly - 

Despite the heavy and persistent rains that flogged the capital for 48
hours, the celebration of Hanukkah, or feast of the miracle, was held at
the Beth Shalom Synagogue, Cuba's most important temple.

The first candle in the grand candelabrum, which has eight branches, was
lighted by the Cuban Vice President, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, in the
presence of Mrs. Adela Dworin, president of the Patronato Hebreo (Hebrew
Community) and a pillar of the Jewish community on the island.
 
Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel celebrates Hanukkah with members of the
Jewish community in Havana.

The candelabrum has new candle holders, but the candle in the central and
tallest holder - called Shamash - is used to light the eight branches.
"That is why this is called the feast of the miracle," Dworin told us.

During the Greco-Syrian occupation of Judea under the command of Antiochus
(c. 200 B.C.), the occupiers "attempted to Hellenize the population, their
faith and culture," she said. "The temple at Jerusalem was desecrated and
the Maccabeans, after a fierce guerrilla war led by Yehuda the Maccabean,
won."

"While cleaning the temple, the Jews found a vessel with oil, which they
lit, and the light burned for eight days," Dworin said. That is why the
central candle is used to light the remaining eight.

Fidel Castro in 1998 and Raúl Castro in 2010 also shared this celebration
with the members of Havana's Jewish community.

The Cuban Vice President and his entourage, which included Caridad Diego,
head of the religious department of the Central Committee of the Communist
Party of Cuba, toured the building and its excellent library.

The official delegation also watched a religious play and listened to the
songs of the Shalom Choir.

Dancers performed "rikudim," traditional Jewish dances.  "I appreciate how
they've been able to maintain and feed the history, culture and knowledge
about the Jewish people in our beloved Cuba," said the Vice President, who
is also a member of the Communist Party politburo.

"Together, we can cooperate and contribute to the construction of a better
society. It has been an unforgettable evening," he said.  Progreso Semanal/
Weekly authorizes the total or partial reproduction of the articles by our
journalists, so long as source and author are identified.


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