An unforgettable Journey: ORT Cuba in Israel


Photo right: ORT Cuba students outside ORT’s office in Israel during their emotional trip to Israel ORT Cubas National Director, William Miller, recently visited Israel for the first time in August 2003, together with eight young leaders from Cuban Jewish communities, including five ORT students from Havana. The group took part in Birthright, and as the first group of Cuban Jewish youth allowed by Fidel Castro to visit Israel, this was an emotional trip. Here he talks about his unforgettable journey. Landing in Israel was an incredible feeling, most of us were crying when we saw the lights of Tel Aviv from the air, and for the next three weeks we experienced the most emotional period of our lives. Visiting the Western Wall for the first time ever on Tisha Beav, and seeing so many Jewish people in one place, knowing that we were part of something so great and diverse, was extremely moving. During our trip we had the opportunity to meet with Zvi Peleg, and ORT’s Israeli students. One of the highlights was joining more than 3,000 young Jewish people from around the world at the Birthright Mega Event. As the first ever Cubans to be represented at such a forum in Israel, to see the Cuban flag waving on the big video screen was unbelievable. Photo left: Zvi Peleg with the ORT Cuba students During our three weeks in Israel, walking the same paths as our forefathers, we felt as if we were part of a journey through time. Up until then all we knew about Israel was what we had learnt through Torah study, and what we had read in books, magazines and newspapers. But without a doubt, visiting our homeland was the best way to get to know our heritage and history. It was an unforgettable experience and one that will be forever in our hearts and minds.