Rabbi meets Cuban Jewish prisoner

By Jessica Elgot, March 8, 2012
Rabbi Arthur Schneier visited Alan Gross in prison on Purim.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier visited Alan Gross in prison on Purim.

A humanitarian delegation to Havana has met the man serving a 15-year sentence for providing Cuban Jews with computer equipment.

New York rabbi Arthur Schneier, from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, urged Cuban officials to release Alan Gross.

The international development worker was imprisoned in 2011 for “crimes against the Cuban state” after bringing mobile phones and computers to Cuban Jews, without a state permit.

Rabbi Schneier, who was accompanied by a Mexican archbishop, a US bishop and a former US ambassador, was granted permission to visit Mr Gross in prison, giving him a tallit, a set of tefillin and hamantaschen for Purim.

He said: “I found a man of faith, concerned about his family, hopeful and reassured that he has not been abandoned. Purim is a festival of miracles, and we pray that a miracle will allow us to see a resolution of the pain and suffering of all involved.”

In their meetings with Cuban officials, the delegates said they stressed that Mr Gross’s 90-year-old mother and a daughter both had cancer.

They also visited Havana’s synagogue and Jewish community centre. The charity provides a shipment of Pesach food every year to the tiny community.

Last updated: 1:23pm, March 8 2012