We’re looking at the last days of Passover.
The seder plates and the cups – Elijah’s and Miriam’s – have been put away, and so have the haggadahs.
Yet with the echo of the word “Dayenu” still as fresh as the memories of the charoset we ate, we still must confront the important issue of freedom.
While freedom is the underlying theme of Passover, Alan Gross hasn’t experienced a day of freedom since he was incarcerated in Cuba in 2009.
Mr. Gross, an American, was setting up Internet services for Havana’s small Jewish community on behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was arrested at the Havana airport.
The Cuban government said he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion. In an August 2012 ruling, Cuba’s highest court upheld the 15-year jail sentence that was imposed on him.
Over the years he’s lost more than 100 pounds, and he is suffering from debilitating arthritis. The Obama administration has asked the Castro government to release him, but the response has been negative.
Cuba asks that five Cuban nationals the United States is holding on espionage charges be released in exchange for Mr. Gross.
Meanwhile Jewish community relations councils have joined elected officials calling for his release. Mr. Gross recently ended a hunger strike started on April 3 to bring his plight to the attention of both the American and the Cuban governments.
We know that many Jews from all over this nation visit Cuba as part of Joint Distribution Committee-sponsored trips to meet the 2,000-strong Havana Jewish community. While the Castro government in general has acted favorably toward its Jewish community, we wish it would work in cooperation with the Obama administration to figure out a deal for Gross’s release, even if that release involves a prisoner exchange.
Jonathan Pollard has been behind bars in this country for way too many years. Let’s try to get this right with Gross. He’s 64 years old, in ill health, and he’s paid an already high price as nothing more than a victim of friction between two nations. He cannot be forgotten.
Bring him home.
As we said earlier in the week at our seder tables, “Dayenu.”