The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, will begin at sunset Wednesday, when Jews worldwide will join with friends and family to hope and pray for a sweet new year.
As the The Herald has frequently reported, Alan Gross witnessed his last sunset in freedom more than four years ago. In 2009, Gross, an American citizen, was arrested and convicted on charges that his work as a subcontractor to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to bring the Internet to the small Jewish community undermined the Cuban government. His sentence is 15 years. Gross’ situation is dire and getting worse. He has lost 100 pounds, has lost vision in his right eye and he can no longer walk. His mother recently died and he could not be with her to say goodbye. Shortly after her death, Gross declared that his life in prison is not worth living.
This Rosh Hashanah, Gross will be languishing in a Cuban prison cell, marking the fifth new year that he will do so. He has told his family it will be his last.
Gross went to Cuba on behalf of the U.S. government. It is time for the government to bring him home. While members of the administration and Congress have worked on his release, it has not been enough.
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Members of our Jewish community and our friends of good will can sign a petition to President Obama to ask him to take meaningful steps to secure Gross’ release — jewishmiami.org/alangross. There are more than 8,000 signatures. We can do better.
Shelley Niceley Groff, chair, Jewish Community Relations Council, Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Miami