Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    American held in Cuba gets Rosh Hashanah visit

    September 30, 2011 8:16 PM

    American held in Cuba gets Rosh Hashanah visit
    By Portia Siegelbaum

    Jailed U.S. contractor shared honey cake and coffee with
    leaders of Cuba's Jewish community on the eve of Rosh Hashanah,
    according to one of the participants.

    In an email sent to CBS News, Adela Dworin, president of the community,
    says she and David Prinstein, vice president of the Jewish Community
    Center had a "private" two-hour meeting with .

    Dworin describes Gross as being dressed in a blue guayabera, the typical
    pleated-front Cuban dress shirt.

    "According to his own words and what we could see, his physical
    condition is good and he is receiving careful medical attention," she

    She says he spoke about his concern over the of his closest
    relatives. "For our part, he received the promise that we would pray for
    their rapid recovery." Gross's daughter was recently operated on for
    breast cancer and his mother has also been diagnosed with cancer.

    Their visit took place in a small room for visitors at the
    Military where the American is serving his time.

    This is the second time the Cuban Government has facilitated such a
    visit with the American sub-contractor in December 2009 and
    sentenced to 15 years in last March after a two-day trial for
    smuggling in equipment that could be used by government
    opponents to escape official controls and promote regime change. The
    Cuban Supreme Court heard an appeal from his lawyers but upheld his

    Dworin says they could see Gross was "very grateful for the interest
    exhibited by the Cuban Jewish Community to visit him and share with him
    the arrival of the new year 5772." Dworin's first visit with Gross, last
    April to take him Passover foods lasted only 30 minutes.

    On this occasion, "Coffee, water and juices" were set out on a table in
    a corner of the room and Gross, "In his role as 'host' together with us
    offered the typical Jewish toast: L'chaim — to life," according to Dworin.

    Dworin says they brought Gross traditional New Year's sweets, including
    honey cake prepared for him by women in the congregation. "The three of
    us shared this typical cake while conversing about different things,"
    reads the email. Asked by phone if Gross had asked the Cuban Jewish
    Community to intervene in seeking his release, Dworin said no.

    Gross insists he was only working to improve internet access for the
    island's Jewish Community.

    There have been many pleas for his release on humanitarian grounds by
    his wife, the U.S. Government and most recently by former New Mexico
    Gov. Bill Richardson, who left Havana earlier this month after failing
    to gain Gross' release or even being allowed to visit him. Richardson
    said he was in Cuba as a private citizen but that he had the support of
    the State Department. Both President Obama and State Department have
    described Gross' imprisonment as a major obstacle to any further
    improvement in U.S.-Cuba relations.