By Ruth Behar | If I had to choose one aspect of my life that had the greatest impact on me as a thinker and a writer, it would be that I was born a Jew in Cuba. And after that, it would be that I came to the United States as an immigrant child, carrying this doubled sense of identity which would eventually be articulated in an American context in the English language, but always with a longing for the native Spanish that was spoken in my family. As a girl and a young woman growing up in New York, I struggled to find a way to give voice to the experience of being a Cuban immigrant, while always yearning to know the island that my family remembered nostalgically, but to which I was told we would never again return to live.
By Ruth BeharLike all children of Cuban exiles who came to the United States in the early 1960s, I heard the name “Fidel Castro” constantly. He was the sole person responsible for the sorrow of my parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who lost their beloved home in Cuba. As Cuban Jews, the wound came atop another wound. My grandparents, Jews from Poland and Turkey, were double refugees—they fled Europe on the eve of the Holocaust, finding refuge in a tropical island of rumba and sugarcane where everyone called each other “mi corazón” and anti-Semitism didn’t exist.
By Ruth Behar This blog appeared originally on Bridges to/from Cuba. For years Richard Blanco and I had talked about traveling to Cuba together. Finally the time seemed right. On June 13th, we met up at the airport in Miami....
In 1983, a chance encounter connected young anthropologist Ruth Behar to a Mexican street peddler named Esperanza Hernandez in ways that would resonate throughout the years, and would continue to live on after Esperanza’s death in 2014.