Home Biography of David Rot
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     David Rot was born in Havana, Cuba in the year 1934. His parents were immigrants from Russia and Poland who, like many other Jews, wanted to reach the United States, but since the quota was closed saw Cuba as a stepping-stone. In the end, they remained in Cuba, where flourished an active Jewish community, schools, synagogues, etc.

     David participated in a Jewish Kindergarten “Tarbut” (view picture) headed by Ida Cohen, and a Jewish Grammar school. He later studied in a Cuban Vocational High School.

     David joined the Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movement 1947 before the Israel War of Independence (view picture). He was very active in the movement and with the years took on more and more responsibility. He even spent a year away from Havana as a leader in Santiago de Cuba on the east coast (view picture).

     In 1952 he spent a year in Israel in the Machon Lemadrichei Hutz La’aretz, a project of the Jewish Agency (view picture) to train youth leaders for work in the various Jewish Youth Movements in the Diaspora.

     David left Cuba in 1956 and went to the Hechalutz Training Farm in Hightstown, New Jersey (view picture). This was a farm that acted as a mini-kibbutz, where members of the Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movements in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Cuba spent a year before immigrating to Israel.

     There he met Yaffa, an American. (view picture) They married and left for Israel in the fall of 1957. (view picture) They first went to Kibbutz Nachshon, in the foothills of Jerusalem, where there were Americans of Yaffa’s group. After 4 years they decided to move to Kibbutz Dvir in the Negev, where members of David’s group were residing, and remained there ever since.

     David and Yaffa had 4 children and, at the time this was written, 7 grandchildren.

     During the years in the Kibbutz, David worked a lot in agriculture, first growing irrigated crops such as potatoes, and then sugar beets, clover, alfalfa, and Rhodes grass (view picture) as fodder for the dairy cows. He also worked in the barn (view picture) and milked the cows. He studied plant diseases in the Rechovoth Institute. (view picture) In his later years he worked in the carpentry shop and was in charge of the maintenance of the children’s houses in the kibbutz. (view picture) He was very interested in modern history, learning by himself and taking evening courses in the Ben Gurion University of Beer Sheba. He was particularly well versed in the history of the Spanish revolution and Cuban History.

     During all his years in the Kibbutz, David was active in the political life in Israel, and was sent by the Mapam party (view picture) to run the branches in Kiriyat Gat, Kiriyat Malachi, and then Beer Sheva. Wherever he went, he was well liked because of his easy manner, hard work, and integrity. David’s belief was that a political party depends on the people who vote for it. He saw great importance in building the branches in the city and having a nice clubroom in which to meet. He also endeavored to hold seminars at people’s homes in informal gatherings. In Beer Sheba David established Tzavta – a branch of the Tel Aviv Tzavta, a theater housing progressive plays and concerts. He organized a voluntary group of people, not necessarily from Mapam, who once a month would set up a rented hall and sell tickets. All who participated had a wonderful time and fondly remember this period in their lives.

     Through Mapam, and later Meretz, David met many Cubans who came to visit Israel, either to learn agriculture or to the Maccabbia, and there was hardly one who was not a guest in his home. He always entertained members of the Cuban Communist party who came at the invitation of Mapam, (view picture) since there were no relations between Israel and Cuba after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

     David always dreamed of returning to Cuba for a visit, which was impossible till after the Russians left Cuba. When Cuba began to maintain a flourishing tourist trade, David managed to obtain visas in March 1993 for a group of 5 Cuban-born Israelis to visit their old homeland. While there, David met with the Cuban Jewish Community, and many people asked him to help them reach Israel. (view picture) David made a list of names, which he always kept in his pocket. He also met with members of the Cuban Communist party, some of whom he had already hosted in Israel.

     In 1992, after the Pope’s visit to Cuba, 4 young people were allowed to reach Israel for the purpose of “religious studies”, and this marked the beginning of the renewed Aliyah from Cuba. David was in charge of their absorption in Israel.

     In March 1993, David organized the Cuban Desk of the International Mapam Movement, today Meretz. (view picture)

     In October 1993, at a dinner in the home of Monica Pollack, a member of Meretz in charge of International Affairs, David met Margarita Zapata, the granddaughter of the renowned Mexican Revolutionary, Emiliano Zapata. (view picture) Since Fidel Castro had lived in her fathers’ home while in exile from Cuba before the revolution, he felt responsible for Margarita, and, not only did she study law in Cuba, but was also living in Castro’s home. At present she is a Nicaraguan citizen and, until she took ill, was stationed in Paris for the Sandinista movement. David took out his list of 8 families and asked Margarita to intervene with Castro to allow them to emigrate. Ultimately these families were allowed to come.

     In April 1994, the first group of immigrants arrived in Israel. They were sent by the Jewish Agency to an absorption Center in Beer Sheba, and David was in constant contact with them to help make their absorption easier. Since then, small groups of immigrants arrive all the time, and have been sent to absorption centers all over the country, Beer Sheba, Ashkalon and Hadera. Until his death, David endeavored to be in touch with all of them. At the memorial service commemorating a year to his death, David received a citation from the Jewish Agency for his work in absorption of immigration. (view picture)

     One of the most important things that he did for these immigrants was to arrange public housing for them, where they could pay low rents. He achieved this through the intervention of Yuli Tamir, Minister of Absorption in the Labor government. (view picture) (Jews leaving Cuba for Israel have to leave their houses to the government, cannot take money out of Cuba, and can bring only 20 kg .of baggage. Thus they do not have the money to buy a house or pay high rentals after leaving the absorption centers. David believed that they should be treated as refugees, like the Ethiopian Aliya. )

     In November 1994 David participated in an international conference in Cuba, devoted to the Middle East, organized by the African-Asian Division of the Cuban Foreign Office, Icap – Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos.

     In January 1996, David was again in Cuba at the invitation of Icap.

     Each trip he made to Cuba, he would always meet with government officials in order to to give them a less one-sided view of the situation in the Middle East, and to see if there was some way that Mapam could help Cuba. He always made it a point on these trips to meet with the Jewish Community, and to bring letters from their families in Israel.

     In 1997, David went to Cuba with a group of Israeli businessmen who wanted to establish a Health Center in Havana. During the following years, he either accompanied, or sent with his recommendation, various Israeli entrepreneurs wishing to do business with Cuba. David saw this not only as a chance to help Cuba economically, but also to deepen the ties between the two countries.

     In February 1999, David was again in Cuba at the invitation of Icaap, and at that time was presented with the Cuban Medal for Solidarity, (view picture) under the auspices of Fidel Castro, in recognition of all he had done for the land of his birth.

     His last trip was in November 2002, a few weeks before his untimely death, for a Conference concerning the Middle East conflict. Most of the participants were either Muslim, or pro-Arab, so he was eager to bring before the delegates a rational Israeli point of view, and was received with great admiration. He was invited to return the coming year with an open invitation for other high-ranking members of the Meretz party, and he was eagerly looking forward to it.

     An active Zionist, and an activist in Israeli politics, David never stopped loving the land of his birth. He tried to help develop the country, and to send food and medicines when there were hurricanes in Cuba. He tried to influence the Israeli government not to vote for the Embargo in the U.N. by participating in rallies against the Embargo, (view picture) and in meetings with the Foreign Office. He also tried to convince the Israeli government to establish a desk for Cuban Affairs in Israel, through a foreign consulate. The Cuban government appreciated his efforts, and for this they gave him the Medal.

     In January 1997, David had to suddenly have open-heart surgery to replace two faulty valves, thereby saving his life. (view picture) Although his physicians predicted that he would never recover the same quality of life as before, because of his eternal optimism and inner strength, he managed within half a year to return to his normal activities, including trips abroad. In March 1999, he underwent open-heart surgery a second time to replace one of the valves, which had developed a leak. He again recovered quickly and continued his normal activities.

     David was a person with high ideals and deep conviction. He believed in Socialism and Zionism, in the equality of man, and the brotherhood of nations, and during his adult years made every effort to strive toward those goals, to make the world a better place. He was not a dogmatic person, and when he saw that certain things he held to be true were unrealistic or unfeasible, he would try to maintain his goals but to match them to reality. He was a mild person, and would try to convince others quietly and with good humor. He would never forcibly impose his ideas on another. David was foremost a man who loved his family. He took deep pride in his wife, his children and his grandchildren, and let them know it at every opportunity. His motto was that the family should always be united, and he endeavored to speedily patch up any differences arising among his sons.

     On Sunday, December 1, 2002, at home just two weeks after his return from the last conference in Cuba, David laid down to take a nap, from which he never woke up. He left a grieving wife, four fine children, six grandchildren and an unborn grandson, who was born just 4 days after his death, and a multitude of loving friends. May his memory be blessed! (view picture)