Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cuba Trip - Day 6

We hit a lot of touristy spots throughout the whole trip. The purpose of the trip was ostensibly to bring Hanukkah to the Jews of Cuba - photos of that in a later post. But one of the highlights of the trip was during our next to last day in Havana. Our tour guide was friendly with a family that currently occupied the home she grew up in, and they had become her surrogate family. We were invited into their home, so we had a chance to see how the average (real) Cuban family lived. The neighborhood looked a bit rough, but the people couldn't have been more hospitable.

Denizens of the neighborhood:

 Being welcomed into the home

Monday, January 18, 2016

Brit Milah

The long history of Judaism is due in no small part to a connection with our ancestors through rites and rituals practiced for centuries. Although there has been evolution and change, continuity has been maintained by reliving the practices of our forefathers. The wearing of Tefillin, about which I've presented several times, began thirty-three hundred years ago during the exodus from Egypt. Circumcision dates back much further to the covenant made between G-d and our founding father whose original name was Abram. When he was 99 years old, G-d appeared before him and changed his name to Abraham, meaning 'father of a multitude of nations'. According to the covenant, G-d promised Abraham the land of Canaan and His protection and care in exchange for which Abraham and his ancestors would follow the path laid down by G-d. The command for circumcision (Brit) was given as a symbol of this covenant. During the modern ritual of Brit Milah, which is performed by a Mohel - a person who is specifically trained to perform the religious and medical procedure, the baby also receives his Jewish name.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Brit Milah as a guest of a friend and fellow congregant as his grandson was welcomed into the Nation of Israel.