ART LITERATURE ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY STAFF PERFORMING ARTS TOUCHSTONE
THE HEBREW CEMETERY OF GUANABACOA RUTH BEHAR | Fiction
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Outside of Havana are the Jews who won’t leave Cuba until the coming of the Messiah. There is the grave of Sender Kaplan’s father a rabbi’s grave encircled by an iron gate shaded by a royal palm. There is the grave in Hebrew letters that speak Spanish words of love and loss. Ay kerida1, why so soon? There is the grave with a crooked Star of David. There is the grave crumbled like feta. I go searching for the grave of my cousin who was too rich to die. I despair. I’ve promised a picture to my aunt and uncle. They’re rich now in Miami but not a penny for Fidel. And then I find it— the grave of Henry Levin who died of leukemia at age twelve and money couldn’t save him. Poor boy, he got left behind with the few living Jews and all the dead ones for whom the doves pray. I reach for the camera but the shutter won’t click. Through ninety long miles of burned bridges I’ve come and Henry Levin won’t smile. I have to return another day to Henry Levin’s grave with a friend’s camera. Mine is useless for the rest Of the trip, transfixed, dead. Only later I learn Why Henry Levin rejected me a latecomer to his grave. My aunt and uncle were wrong. Henry Levin is not abandoned. Your criada, the black woman who didn’t marry to care for him, tends his grave. Tere tells me she can’t forget Henry, he died in her arms. Your family left you, cousin, so thank God for a black woman who still visits your little bones. 1 Judeo-Spanish for “Goodbye, dear girlfriend”.
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