When one sees the word “Cuba,” one might expect to learn about such things as Communism, Fidel Castro or Cuba”s economy. These are the issues primed in us, and it is rare that we hear about Cuba”s cultural history which, for example, includes the rush of emigrant Jews to the country before and during World War II.
This group of Sephardic Jews, that originated in Spain and slowly traveled to Africa and then Latin America, has had an enormous impact on University Professor of Anthropology Ruth Behar, who was born in Cuba and moved to the United States with her parents and brother at the age of five. Behar has a deep nostalgia for her native country and as a Jewish Cuban-American, she finds her story an intriguing one one that could bring to audiences the beauty and appreciation of her past. In her documentary “Adio Kerida,” (Goodbye Dear Love), Behar explores the lives of her friends in Cuba, and reveals the Cuban culture and the diverse relationships that have impacted her life.
When asked what people seem to have liked so far about this film, Behar responds “They feel it is just a good emigrant story. It speaks to the emigrant experience.”
In addition to Behar”s exploration of Cuba, she includes footage from Miami, New York, and even Ann Arbor. Her father, who has not returned to Cuba since he left in the 1960s, does not wish to dwell on the past, yet Behar embraces the opportunity to explore this culture that helped to shape her life. Behar has traveled to Cuba several times over the past 10 years, and although she can articulate no vivid memories, she feels a special connection to the country, and through her numerous visits, she has established lasting friendships. One of these in particular is an Afro-Cuban boy of Jewish descent, who dreams of going to Israel to become a drummer.
” I love the Cuba people and I feel lucky that I was born there. I think the people are so generous and tolerant, and so fun-loving.”
“Adio Kerida” can be considered a journey, as it is filled with nostalgia, but also a lot of laughs. Behar also spent a lot of time picking out excellent Afro-Cuban music, and this helps to enhance the touching experience she wishes to share.
Behar is intrigued by the impact this cultural journey can have on anyone struggling to find his or her ethnic identity. With an open mind and a strong curiosity about her cultural past, Behar has come to realize her fortune to have such a complex identitywhich is both Cuban and American, with Jewish roots.
“Adio Kerida” recently opened at the Miami festival and it will travel to East Lansing, Detroit, and some Latino film festivalsone which is in Austin, Texas. The film has already been shown in New York, where Behar parents live.