Haiti Haitian American In The News

Miami Cuban Synagogue Host First Haitian Shabbat

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A Haitian Shabbat?

According to Miami New Times

When you think of Haiti, you might think of a troubled political history. You might think of its colorful, intricate artwork. You might think of the devastating earthquake that leveled large parts of the country just more than four years ago. But you probably don’t think of Jews. And that, says Leah Stern, is a problem. Stern, the Southeast regional director of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) Haiti, which runs an orphanage and hospital for displaced Haitian children, wanted to bring her organization’s cause to the attention of one of Miami’s biggest and most generous philanthropic demographics: members of the Jewish faith. So she and Temple Beth Shmuel Rabbi Aaron Katz devised a unique concept: a Haitian Shabbat.

“I was cheating on my rabbi with Rabbi Katz,” Stern laughs, explaining that Katz is a religious leader who often eschews conservative practices in order to target Miami Beach’s younger demographic. “He’s like the rabbi from The Birdcage…. I fell in love with him because he was different than any other rabbi I’d ever met. He’s very open. He likes to go out and socialize. We’d talk about men, the Bible, and he’s a professional matchmaker, so he was trying to find me a husband at the same time.”Stern shared her frustration at targeting new philanthopic groups for NPH Haiti, which had traditionally been focused on fundraising among Catholics. And that’s when the idea was born.

“He said, ‘how about a Haitian Shabbat?’ [I said], Rabbi, what the hell is a Haitian Shabbat?”

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