Havana: A leader of Cuba`s small Jewish
community who visited jailed American contractor Alan Gross
and even released pictures of them celebrating the Jewish
holiday of Hanukkah together said that he was in good spirits
and fine health.
But her account was quickly disputed yesterday by the
man`s wife, who said he was increasingly frail and despondent.
Adela Dworin said that she and another Jewish leader
spent nearly two hours Monday with Gross at the military
hospital where he is being held.
They lit candles, ate potato pancakes and passed around
chocolate coins to celebrate Hanukkah.
Photographs taken during the meeting show a thin Gross
wearing a light-blue guayabera shirt standing between Dworin
and another Cuban Jewish leader, David Prinstein.
Gross has a gray beard. They are believed to be the first
photos released of Gross inside the military hospital.
"His health is very good," Dworin told a news agency ahead of the photos` release. "He has gained some
weight. He`s not fat, but he`s not so thin anymore."
But that account was questioned by Gross`s wife, Judy,
who revealed that she had traveled to Cuba to visit her
husband a few weeks ago, and said she speaks to him regularly
on the phone.
"He is deteriorating more and more every day," she wrote
in a statement. "He told me he is feeling very hopeless ... I
truly do not know how much longer he can take this ordeal."
Judy Gross said her 62-year-old husband had recently
cried for the first time while they spoke on the phone
together, and said if he appeared cheerful in front of Dworin
it was only to "put on a brave face."
"We continue to beg the Cuban authorities to let Alan
come home to us," she wrote, adding that one look at the
photos released by Dworin show a man who is weak and frail
compared to the way he looked before his arrest.
Gross, who was portly, reportedly had lost 45 kilogrammes
since he was arrested in December 2009.