The U.S. government is tightening the restrictions on travelers to
Cuba. The minimum fine is now $7500 and your name will be added
to the government database that can be accessed whenever you travel
abroad so that you can be scrutinized more carefully when you reenter
We understand that the Canadian government is cooperating with the
U.S. government by turning over passenger manifests with final
destinations of every American traveling out of Cuba. This
allows the government to take action by placing a fine on the illegal
traveler to Cuba without physical detention upon the traveler’s
return. The fine probably would not be leveled for several
months as it takes time to process the records.
This information reinforces the need to travel with a legally licensed
organization and only for the purposes approved by the U.S. Treasury
Department Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The CAJM license allows for travel to visit the Jewish community for
the purposes of supporting the religious endeavors of this community
and to provide religious and humanitarian aid for members of the
if you have any question
a Trip to Cuba
If you are researching a trip to Cuba ...
If you're thinking of traveling to Cuba, here's some information that you might find
1. There are many Internet sites that offer information on travel to Cuba. For general
background and links , go to the internet and ask for Cuba and your special
2. Cuba maintains an extensive network of promotion offices overseas (but not in the
U.S.) that provide brochures and information.
3. You can contact the Cuban Tourist Board in Toronto at 416-362-0700, or in Mexico
City at 52-5-574-9454.
4. The Cuban government's Havanatur travel agency office in Nassau can be contacted at:
5. The US
Department of the Treasury regulates all Cuba travel. Please visit
their official web page
to find information about the categories under which you may travel to
6. To apply for a license for U.S.-government approved travel to Cuba contact the Office
of Foreign Assets Control, 202-622-2480.
hotels in Cuba either have a location for changing money or will do
it at the front desk
Tels: 33-3423, 33-3424.
Assists tourists with wire transfers from abroad for a fee.
Banco Financiero Internacional
Linea esq O, Vedado. Open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm; last day of month until noon.
Provides dollar transactions, credit card withdrawals and exchange services.
Banco Financiero Internacional
Habana Libre branch. Open daily 9am-7pm.
Banco Internacional de Comercio
Ayestaran esq Paseo, Plaza de la Revolución. Open 8:30am-2pm.
Hotel Nacional. Open 8am-noon and 12:30-7:30pm.
Money can now be sent over the Internet by using a credit card and paying around
20 percent surcharge:
CAJM Provides our Mission Participants
When using a digital in the Patronato social hall, it
is necessary to change your setting for
the flourescent lights which are there.
Buy bottled water -DO NOT DRINK FROM THE TAP. Bottled water is
available in the stores in each hotel and
Clothing - Carry a light jacket for evenings. Men seldom, if ever,
need a sport jacket as dressing is very
Neither men nor women are often seen on the streets of Havana in
shorts except during the heat of summer,
but shorts are common in other areas all year.
Air conditioning can be a problem. Anyone who is affected should
carry a light jacket and/or cotton sweater.
Women do wear pants to synagogue in Cuba. They can also wear talit
and kippah in the Askenazi synagogue in Havana (Gran Synagogo Beth
Shalom - commonly known as the Patronato) . Women can comfortably
wear talit and kippah in congregations in the countryside and at the
Sephardic synagogue in Havana.
Be prepared for occasional rain in the winter and lots in the summer
and early fall.
HATS, SUNGLASSES, SUNSCREEN,
MOSQUITO REPELLENT are all necessities for your comfort.
Medicine -- Carry a broad spectrum antibiotic if you will be in Cuba
more than a week. In this way you will
have good medicine if a doctor prescribes an antibiotic
and there happens to be a shortage in Cuba
at that point.
Major point - always carry toilet
paper since many public toilets are not supplied. Also, it is wise
to carry some kind of handcleaning supply
like moist towlettes or the new liquids that require no rinsing.
If you visit the cemetery, take along lots of drinking water. There
are few shade trees and no potable water to drink. A personal
umbrella will provide more shade than a hat.
For handwashing when leaving the Ashkenazi cemetery in Havana, there
is a faucet to your left to the side of the Tahara building at the
entrance. There is a faucet on the corner of the building in the
Sefaradic Cemetery, closest to the gate.
Cemeteries in the provinces are usually locked so it is good to call
the local synagogue president first.
Swimming is good all times of year.
Most of the hotels will have pools. Bring bath towels for the beach
that you can give to a new friend before
you return to your home.
Very few hotels have physical fitness centers. Sometimes, you can
rent a bike. Walking is the best exercise
and allows you to see the cities.
How to access the web and send email from Havana
There are many places where one can send email and access the web.
Many private individuals have acquired email in the past year but
few have access to the web. You will probably have to go to a public
site that caters to tourists. Most tourist hotels are internet
accessible. Here are some popular locations because they have more
than one station:
Hotel Nacional in Vedado: About $8/hour
The Capitolio in Old Havana: About $6 /hour. Downstairs.
Colombus Connectividad, Calle 20 e/ 7ma. y 9na. #711, Mirimar,
Biomundi center, c. 200 e/ 19 y 21, Atabey, Havana, About $6/hour
Parque Central About $9/hour
Habana Libre About $9/hour
There are also several cybercafes around Havana and in the
Where do I
change my dollars into pesos?
You can change dollars into pesos
at CADECA (Casa de Cambio / Exchange House), at some banks, and at
hotel front desks. Don't change with people in the street, it's
not legal. Lately the exchange rate has been stable at 1 dollar =
25 pesos. Dollars cannot be used anymore for purchasing items in
Cuba. You must change money. When changing money, you will be
given tourist convertible pesos rather than the national peso. It
is traded at one CUC for each dollar. However, there is a 20%
surcharge. If you change other national currencies to CUC, you
will be charged 8 to 10% surcharge. Tourists changing
pesos back to dollars do so at 1 to1.
I've heard there are two different kind of pesos.
Is this true?
There is a little confusion regarding currencies in Cuba.
There are two currencies in Cuba now:
Peso (CUC) - 1 ccp
= 1 usd
- 25 cup
= 1 usd
The CUC is the equivalent of 80% of an American dollar. The
Domestic Cuban Peso (CUP) is used by the population to buy all
goods and pay all services. It s also used by the government
owned companies. When you visit an exchange house with dollars
(usd) you leave with pesos (cup). You can use pesos (cup) to
buy in the farmers' market, or pay public transportation. Most
of the tourists don't use pesos, just CUCs. But certain type
of tourists enjoy buying in the farmers' marker, or taking
buses instead of taxis, and they'll need pesos. You can use
pesos also to buy books. 90% of goods in Cuba can be obtained
with tourist pesos.
How much money should I anticipate spending each
day, for everything?
If you are staying at a "tourist hotel" about $200 per day
should be enough. If you are the type traveling with a
backpack, staying in private houses, and buying food in pesos,
from $30 to $50 depending on where you are. (Cities are more
expensive.) Buying a package tour will of course reduce the
amount of cash needed daily. Carrying traveler's checks is
better than carrying cash, but have enough cash for meals and
taxis. You may cash travelers checks drawn on U.S. banks at
most banks or hotel front desks.
Can I use my credit card?
If you are a citizen of the U.S. you cannot use your credit
card(s) in Cuba. Only non-U.S. credit cards are accepted.
Banks and hotels accept Travelers Checks from all countries.
It doesn't matter what your citizenship is for using credit
cards in Cuba. Some people have bank accounts in England,
Mexico, Canada, Israel, etc. Even if they are U.S. citizens,
they can use these cards. However, there are very few
establishments that accept credit cards.
Where can I use my non-U.S. credit card?
Mostly any bank and stores in shopping malls in major
cities will accept non-U.S. credit cards.
Where can I cash my travelers checks?
Banks and hotels. Banks are less friendly, but you'll
Where can I cash my American Express travelers
checks which are from a United States bank?
There are many banks
which will cash these checks. One is at the Hotel
Nacional on the mezzanine. There are also many
hotels which will cash AmEx checks from a United States
Airport Exit Tax : Miami to Havana
$60. Havana to Miami or Cancun $30.
Airport overweight charges are $2.00 a pound from the USA,
$2.00 a kilo from Cancun, and $2 a pound
Health Insurance - medical and emergency medical evacuation
is available for about $5.00 a day from charter company agents in
the U.S.. Medical care is provided in every tourist hotel and there
is an excellent hospital for foreigners in Havana. There are clinics
and hospitals all over the island.
Cigars - The U.S. government is
currently forbidding travelers to bring back cigars. For those
traveling from Cuba to their homes in
other countries, the Cuban government requires that you have a
receipt when you exit the county to show
that you purchased them legally. Cigars are of dubious quality when
bought from private individuals on the
street. They are often old and dry.
Authorized factories are your best bet. You can count on the
quality. When you leave the country, the
Cuban government might ask you for your cigar purchase receipt. If
you do not have one, your cigars might be confiscated.
We do not recommend that you take your own cell phone to Cuba. It's
expensive to activate them. In recent times, most hotels have the
ability to set you up with Cubacell. You sign a contract and you might
have to put a deposit. Then you are billed by the minutes that you
spend. The minute rates change so we can't quote you a price but in 2004
it cost 60 cents a minute within Cuba and $3 a minute to the U.S.
Calling cards for regular phones cost $2 a minute but card phones are
sometimes difficult to find. Calling from your room in most hotels is
You Might Want to Carry to the Jewish Community
A List of Current needs for 2009
Address packages and deliver medicines
to Dra. Rosa Behar
The Patronato Pharmacy
Calle I #259
Vedado, La Habana
Amlodipine tablets (Norvasc)
Analgesic cream for arthritis pain
Anti-acne for teenagers
Antibiotic cream and for children
Antihistaminics (Zyrtec, Lovatidina, Claritin)
Antimicotics in cream
Azytromicina (Zitromax for children and adults)
Diltiazen - tablets
Feasol (iron in tablets)
Glucometer, strips – One touch advance
Ibuprofen (in syrup for children)
Jeringes (5cc, 3cc, 23 ½ IM) with needles
Metmorfina tablets (glucophage)
Small Ziploc bags (to deliver the medicines to the people)
Spray for the Asthma (highly needed): Salbutamol, Albuterol,
Ventolin, Flovent, Serevent.
Tylenol (in syrup for children)
Vitamin C -pediatric drops
Multi-Vitamins for adults
Vitamins for children both solid and in drops
Nebulizers for chronic asthma
Blood pressure meters
Neck corset for cervical orthopedic problems
A SECOND LIST OF AIDS
Pediatric analgesics and vitamins, calcium supplements, ulcer medicines such as Tagamet,
Zantac, Axid, Cardiac medicines, Antihypertensives, Asthma medications and inhalers,
decongestants, cold remedies, antihistamines particularly Hismanal, Seldane, and Claritin,
antibiotics especially cephalosporins, and Quinalones, Antifungal agents both oral and
ointments (Nizoral, Diflucan, Micatin, Lotrimin), Pepto-Bismol, Advil, any unexpired Rx
medications from a physician.
Dental supplies - especially materials to fill cavities
Candles - smaller sizes
Stationery, envelopes, glue Magic mending tape.
Jewish decorations for the home
Pretty nighties for the girls and children
Shoes in very good shape - sandals, tennis shoes, dress shoes for little children
Basic cosmetics and toiletries for the ladies - creams, cleansers, soap, lipstick
Dried fruits and nuts
Dishtowels, bath towels,
Shampoo and rinse
Cloth shopping bags for going to the market.
Candy, Power Bars, Gum
Battery operated lights of all sizes plus batteries, mostly needed outside of Havana
You are permitted to carry canned meats and fish, but you can also buy these items and
other canned foods in Dollar stores - stores that require dollars for shopping.
The Askenazi Conservative synagogue in Havana is located at the
Patronato in the Vedado neighborhood. It is a combination community
center and synagogue. Adela Dworin is the president and William Miller
is Vice President. There is also the community library with its
wonderful collection of rare Yiddish books, among others..
Services at the Patronato on Erev Shabbat occur between 6 and 6:30PM
most of the year. They are followed by dinner in the social hall. All
are welcome to stay for dinner if arrangements are made in advance.
Shabbat morning services begin about 10AM and last to noon. They are
followed by a nice lunch with socialization and often an organization
meeting like the Women's group or the Simja group (55+). The Youth Group
(14-30 yrs.) often gathers in the Social Hall on Shabbat afternoon or
Saturday evening. For those who want to study before Shabbat, there is a
course taught the last hour before service, sometimes. Call the
Patronato for information. Phone number: 832-8953.
The Orthodox Synagogue, Adath Israel has services every morning and
evening plus Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat. Call for times Food is served
before or after every service.. Phone: 861-3495. There are English
speakers in the office
The Central Sefaradi Synagoue holds Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat morning
services from 9:30 or 10AM to about noon followed by a nice meal and
social hour. phone number: 832-6623. Dra. Mayra Levy is president and
Can I get kosher food in Cuba? (Let's
deal with the most important question first.)
No. You can travel kosher-style or
bring canned foods. If kosher-style, always check to make sure the beans
are cooked vegetarian style. Be careful about soups and all other side
dishes since Cubans like to use pork in just about everything.
Can I eat dinner
at the synagogues on Shabbat?
Depending on the synagogue, and the time of the year, you can find from
a snack to full dinner. You will always be welcome to join the community
dinner. Contact them
in advance, however.
All meals are not included in our mission programs. Therefore, we
always give a short list of restaurants to our participants. Since other groups also
do not provide every meal, many people request recommendations. Thus, we are
providing our current list. If you have a bad experience in any of these
restaurants, please inform us, and if you discover other places that serve tasty food,
please inform us of that also.
The CAJM Restaurant List for Havana, Cuba
If there are stars after the name, we at CAJM have had personal positive
experiences at that restaurant.
17 e/ B y C, Vedado
El Palio (italian
calle 24 y 1a ave,
Ave Koly e/ 32 y 30, Nuevo Vedado
Comunidad No.1 Casa 10
El Morro. La Cabaña., Habana del Este
Zulueta No. 658 e Gloria y Apodaca.
La Cocina de Lilliam - best yet
48 # 1311 e/ 13 y
15, Playa, Havana
El Ajibe, Restaurant **
Miramar. Specializes in chicken
Vista al Mar (VISTAMAR) OK
e/22 y 24, Miramar
Simon Bolivar #553
e/ Juan M. Marquez y Rita Montelier Tel: 3462
(lunch was excellent and this place also includes very nice private
Transtur Rent a
Calle 1ra. No. 2602 e/ 26 y 28, Miramar. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 204-5532
Fax: (53 7) 204-4762
Transtur Rent a Car
Calle Cuba No. 60, 9no. Piso. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 861-6788 · 862-2459 · 862-1744
Fax: (53 7) 861-5885
Calle 1ra. No. 16401 esq. a 164, Miramar. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 33-2277 · 33-7233 · 33-1157
Fax: (53 7) 33-0760
Vía Blanca y Palatino. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 33-5647
Fax: (53 7) 57-7338
Calle 1ra. esq. a 0, Edificio Sierra Maestra, Miramar. Ciudad de La
Telephones: (53 7) 203-9658 · 203-9815
Fax: (53 7) 204-0648
Calle Línea y Malecón, Vedado. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 55-3298
Fax: (53 7) 55-5657
Rex (Alquiler de Autos & Servicio
Ave. Rancho Boyeros y Calzada de Bejucal. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 33-9160
Fax: (53 7) 33-9159
Vía Rent a Car
Calle 47 No. 508 e/ 34 y 41. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 204-4445
Fax: (53 7) 204-4445
Ave. 1ra. y Paseo, Vedado. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 55-3535
Fax: (53 7) 55-3779
Calle 110 e/ 3ra. y 5ta., Miramar. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 204-3457 · 204-2444 · 204-5555 · 204-8349
Fax: (53 7) 204-2444
transportation into and out of Havana
Airport José Martí,
18 km from Havana. Turistaxi to airport, US$25-30 depending on time of
day or night and destination.
Panataxi are US $20 to $25 CUC.
The Cubatur desk will book a taxi for you from the airport but any
porter will help you. The return journey in a private taxi could cost as
little as US$20. Panataxi seems to be the cheapest legal taxi.
City buses run from Terminal 4 (Air Cubana terminal) to town, ask
around. To the airport from town, M2 buses leave from Parque
Fraternidad, but are always full, long queues, difficult with luggage.
Long distance buses:
Terminal de Omnibus Interprovinciales, Av Rancho Boyeros
(Independencia). See Information for travellers for advance booking
addresses. Also Víazul, from Av 26 entre Av Zoológico y Ulloa, Nuevo
Vedado, T 811413, 811108, 815652, F 666092, buses or minibuses usually
every other day to Varadero, Trinidad, Viñales via Pinar del Río (and
Hiring a car is not
recommended for getting around Havana City, roads are badly signed and
there have been many accidents with tourists driving rental cars
Driving in the provinces takes great care but is reasonable to