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Trip to Cuba features life and culture of Havana

A group of more than 30 participants from Western Mass. went on a memorable journey to Cuba from April 19 – 26.

The trip was co-sponsored by the Springfield Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts and included participants from the upper and lower valley, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

An information session for another trip to Cuba, scheduled for October of 2017, will be held on Thursday, June 22 at 7 p.m. at the Springfield JCC.

The itinerary of the April trip centered around the Havana area, and was jam-packed with every aspect of Cuban life and culture. It included historical walks with guides through all four of old Havana’s squares, noted speakers from the University of Havana, a guided tour through an art museum, tours of artists’ colonies, a dance rehearsal, a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s home, and a tour of a cigar factory.

The group also met with representatives from both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic synagogues and attended a Yom Hashoah commemoration at a Jewish cemetery’s Holocaust Memorial.

The trip was planned by Beverly Nadler, director of Life Lessons: The William & Margery Sadowsky Center for Adult Learning at the JCC, with support from Charlie Epstein, Federation’s Campaign Co-chair.

Both Nadler and her husband Allen, along with Epstein and his wife Lorie participated in the trip along with a diverse group that included couples and singles ranging in age from 50s to 80s.

Miriam Levinson, owner of Great Time Tours in Chicago, coordinated the itinerary and also accompanied the group, along with a tour guide.

“Miriam was what made this trip so special,” Nadler said. “She was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. with her family at the age of ten. As a young adult Miriam started recalling and writing about her childhood in Cuba and shared many of her recollections with the group at various times throughout the trip. Her colorful storytelling took everyone back in time and the group was spellbound.” Levinson returned to Cuba for the first time in 2001 and has been back in excess of 200 times since. The group even had the opportunity to visit Miriam’s childhood home.

A second trip is scheduled for October 17- 24 and is limited to the first 35 registrants. Levinson will be in attendance at the June 22 information session, as will participants from the April trip who will be there to share stories and pictures from their trip.

For more information, contact Beverly Nadler at (413) 739-4715 or

CAP: The group visited temple beth shalom in Havana.

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