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19th Dominican Republic Jazz Festival delights music lovers

Josean Jocobo

Dominican piano man Josean Jocobo. Photo courtesy of the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival.

The 19th edition of the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival brought five nights of free concerts to the Dominican North Coast recently, delighting an estimated 12,650 music patrons in four cities.

Presented by FEDUJAZZ and the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, the Nov. 4-8 festival featured an all-star lineup of outstanding musicians who performed in Santiago, Sosúa, Puerto Plata and Cabarete.

Artists for the 2015 festival included Grammy Award winners David Sanchez (Puerto Rico) and John Patitucci (USA), and the Grammy-nominated Pedrito Martinez Group, along with other outstanding talents: Josean Jacobo (Dominican Republic), Roy Assaf Trio (Israel), Berklee Global Jazz Institute (USA), Javier Vargas and The Big Band Conservatory of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) with special guests Jim Kelly, Jim Odgren and Jason Camelio (USA).

Additional prominent artists included the Student Loan String Band (USA), Manuel Tejada (Dominican Republic), Mario Canonge Trio (France) and Pengbian Sang and Retro Jazz (Dominican Republic).

Pedrito Martinez Group

Grammy-nominated Pedrito Martinez Group. Photo courtesy of the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival.

The largest free event of its kind in the Caribbean, the festival also paid homage to several of its own beloved national treasures, with tributes to renowned Dominican saxophone players and composers / arrangers Juan Colón, Sandy Gabriel and Crispin Fernandez.

In addition to delighting jazz lovers at the evening shows, several of the artists led daytime music workshops for more than 1,500 North Coast schoolchildren.

FEDUJAZZ, the music education foundation of the festival, currently provides 150 local children with free, ongoing music education and training at its new center in Cabarete.

In December, FEDUJAZZ will expand its music programs to include 73 children now on the waiting list. The programs will be divided into five age groups: 7 to 8 year olds, 8 to 9 year olds, 10 to 11 year olds, 12 to 14 year olds and 15 to 18 year olds.

The festival has also announced an exciting, new alliance with the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Matt Marvuglio, dean of the college’s Performance Division, and Marco Pignataro, college managing director, will join the festival’s Artistic Advisory Board, beginning with selection of artists for the 2016 event. Mr. Marvuglio and Mr. Pignataro will also serve as FEDUJAZZ advisors.

Since its inception, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival has presented internationally renowned Latin Grammy and Grammy Award-winning musicians from around the world. This enriching addition to the diverse culture of the country allows for visitors and locals alike to enjoy all forms of jazz in the beautiful setting of the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic Jazz Festival will celebrate its 20th edition in 2016 on the following dates:

• Nov. 8 – Santo Domingo

• Nov. 9 – Santiago

• Nov. 10 – Puerto Plata

• Nov. 11 & 12 – Cabarete

Sponsors for the 2015 festival included Ron Macorix, JetBlue, the U.S. Embassy, Berklee Global Jazz Institute, Gratereaux Delva & Associates Law Firm, Sea Horse Ranch Luxury Resort, Ultravioleta Boutique Residences, Millennium Resort & Spa, Casa Linda, the Municipality of Sosua, Cibao Recycling and Ban Reservas.

For more information, visit www.drjazzfestival.com.

Talented lineup headlines 19th Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

Internationally renowned musicians from Cuba, France, Israel, Puerto Rico, the USA and, of course, the Dominican Republic will take the stage at the 19th Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, which will bring five nights of free concerts, Nov. 4-8, to Santiago, Sosúa, Puerto Plata and Cabarete.19th Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

Presented by FEDUJAZZ and the Dominican Ministry of Tourism, the highly anticipated cultural event is the longest-running jazz festival in the Caribbean.

In addition to the talented lineup, festival organizers announced that Matt Marvuglio, dean of the performance division at Berklee College of Music (Boston, Massachusetts), and Marco Pignataro, managing director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, are joining the Artistic Advisory Board for the festival and will serve as advisors to FEDUJAZZ, the education foundation that provides free music education for Dominican youth.

Since its inception, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival has presented internationally renowned Latin Grammy and Grammy Award-winning musicians such as Ignacio Berroa, Joe Lovano, Chuck Mangione, Ray Baretto, Néstor Torres, Chucho Valdés, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Arturo Sandoval among many other talents.

The festival is free, but VIP tickets are available, enabling priority seating, complimentary beverages and other perks, with proceeds benefiting FEDUJAZZ. Here’s the lineup:

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 8 p.m. – Santiago, Centro Leon

  • Big Band Conservatory of Santo Domingo with Javier Vargas (Dominican Republic) featuring special Guests Jim Kelly, Jim Odgren and Jason Camelio (USA)
  • Tribute to Juan Colon (Dominican Republic)
  • Student Loan String Band (USA)

Thursday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m. – Sosúa, Casa Marina Amphitheater

  • Big Band Conservatory of Santo Domingo with Javier Vargas (Dominican Republic) featuring special guests Jim Kelly, Jim Odgren and Jason Camelio (USA)
  • Roy Assaf Trio (Israel)

Friday, Nov. 6, 8 p.m. – Puerto Plata, Plaza Independencia

  • Manuel Tejada (Dominican Republic)
  • Berklee Global Jazz Institute (USA)
  • Tribute to Sandy Gabriel (Dominican Republic)
  • David Sánchez Quintet (Puerto Rico)

Saturday, Nov. 7, 8 p.m. – Cabarete Beach

  • Youth Concerts – Noon (Dominican Republic)
  • Josean Jacobo (Dominican Republic)
  • John Patitucci (USA)

Sunday, Nov. 8, 8 p.m. – Cabarete Beach

  • Mario Canonge Trio (France)
  • Pengbian Sang and Retro Jazz (Dominican Republic)
  • Tribute to Crispin Fernandez (Dominican Republic)
  • Pedrito Martinez Group (Cuba)

The FEDUJAZZ music program aims to provide children with free music programs that enhance their overall education and increase life opportunities. Currently there are over 150 students attending free music classes at the new center in Cabarete. Additionally, over 1,000 schoolchildren from the North Coast of the Dominican Republic participate in the music workshops jazz festival musicians.

The 19th Dominican Republic Jazz Festival is presented by the Ministry of Tourism, and sponsors include Ron Macorix, JetBlue, the U.S. Embassy, Berklee Global Jazz Institute, Gratereaux Delva & Associates Law Firm, Sea Horse Ranch Luxury Resort, Ultravioleta Boutique Residences, Millennium Resort & Spa, Casa Linda, the Municipality of Sosúa, Cibao Recycling and BanReservas.

Dominican Republic Jazz Festival delights audiences

Pat Pereyra y su Banda, Rafelito Mirabal, Guy Frometa & guest Alex Jacquemin. Photo courtesy of Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

Pat Pereyra y su Banda, Rafelito Mirabal, Guy Frometa & guest Alex Jacquemin. Photo courtesy of Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

By Matt Bokor

Music lovers from around the country and around the world enjoyed four nights of free concerts by internationally acclaimed musicians at the 18th annual Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, which brought performances to Puerto Plata, Sosúa and Cabarete Beach Nov. 6-9.

Known for its legendary performers and seaside venue, the festival came off better than scripted this year.

Rafael Solano performs 'Por Amor.' Photo courtesy of Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

Rafael Solano performs ‘Por Amor.’ Photo courtesy of Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

For starters several days of rain ended just in time, allowing the full moon to bathe the North Shore in its glow. And after the Jazz Festival presented an award to beloved Dominican composer-pianist Rafael Solano, 83, he unexpectedly took a seat at the grand piano and performed his famous love song, “Por Amor,” to the delight of the Saturday night audience at Cabarete Beach.

Throughout the weekend audiences soaked up the sounds of Colin Hunter & Joe Sealy’s Quartet (Canada); Ignacio Berroa Group (USA) with Giovanni Hidalgo (Puerto Rico); Berklee Global Jazz Institute (USA); Ramón Vázquez TríoS (Puerto Rico); Big Band Conservatory of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Patricia Pereyra and Band with special guest Alex Jacquemin (France); Edgar Molina (Dominican Republic); the Joe Lovano Quartet (USA); and more.

Krency Garcia, El Prodigio, performs. Photo: Felix Corona

Krency Garcia, El Prodigio, performs. Photo: Felix Corona

Accordionist Krency Garcia, “El Prodigio,” made a special appearance, adding his merengue típico music to the mix. La Familia Andre, the popular Dominican fusion band, closed out the festival Sunday night.

Lorenzo Sancassi, tourism minister for the Puerto Plata province and a driving force behind the event, said the festival’s 18-year history makes it “the oldest of its kind in the country. The festival has endured, and provided immense joy and culture to both Dominicans and tourists who gather in our country to enjoy this magnificent event and the appeal of our island.”

Coinciding with the Dominican Republic’s Constitution Day holiday, the Jazz Festival goes beyond entertainment and into education through its affiliation with FEDUJAZZ, a non-profit organization that conducts musical workshops for youth. Motivating and developing young artistic talent, FEDUJAZZ has partnered with local organizations such as Sosúa City Council to further assist in the education of Dominican children, using jazz as the teaching platform.

Grammy winner Joe Lovano leads a children's workshop. Photo: Felix Corona

Grammy winner Joe Lovano leads a children’s workshop. Photo: Felix Corona

As part of the 2014 festival, hundreds of North Shore schoolchildren attended entertaining, educational sessions where the artists shared their love of music and explained how easy it is for the kids to find music in their lives.

“It was special, being on the beach, in front of 200 to 300 kids,” said Joe Lovano, a Grammy Award-winning saxophonist who led a workshop Saturday morning. “I felt like I was connecting with them. I could see I was reaching them in a certain way.”

Sponsors for the 18th Dominican Republic Jazz Festival included Ron Macorix, JetBlue, the United States Embassy, Berklee Global Jazz Institute, Sea Horse Ranch Luxury Resort, Ultravioleta, Millennium Resort & Spa, Casa Linda, the Municipality of Sosúa and Cibao Recycling.

Mark your calendar for the festival’s 19th edition: Nov. 5-8, 2015. For more visit drjazzfestival.com.

Colin Hunter with saxophonist Alison Young. Photo courtesy of Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

Colin Hunter with saxophonist Alison Young. Photo courtesy of Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

18th Dominican Republic Jazz Festival coming to North Shore

The Dominican Republic Jazz Festival will celebrate its 18th year with four nights of free concerts Nov. 6-9 in the touristic towns of Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete on the Dominican North Shore.

Abraham Laboriel performs at Dominican Republic Jazz Festival 2013

Abraham Laboriel performs at Dominican Republic Jazz Festival 2013. Photo by Olivier Moro

Presented by the Dominican Ministry of Tourism, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival is a renowned, annual cultural event. Bringing Jazz to a diverse crowd of music lovers, comprised of local residents and tourists alike, the 2013 event enjoyed record-breaking attendance with a combined audience of over 10,000 people.

The festival also brings music education to the region through its affiliation with FEDUJAZZ, a non-profit organization that conducts musical workshops for youth. Motivating and developing young artistic talent, FEDUJAZZ has partnered with local organizations such as Sosua City Council to further assist in the education of Dominican children, using Jazz as the teaching platform.

The Dominican Republic Jazz Festival is known for its legendary performers and seaside locale with its mix of tropical climate, Caribbean culture and a Latin take on the international jazz scene. The festival is free, but VIP tickets are available, enabling priority seating, complimentary beverages and other festival perks with proceeds benefiting the music foundation FEDUJAZZ.

The internationally acclaimed musicians participating in the 2014 Dominican Republic Jazz Festival include Colin Hunter & Joe Sealy ‘s Quartet (Canada), Ignacio Berroa Group (USA) with Giovanni Hidalgo (Puerto Rico), Berklee Global Jazz Institute (USA), Joe Lovano’s Quartet (USA), Ramón Vázquez Trío with Edmar Colón and Danny Díaz (Puerto Rico), Big Band Conservatory of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic ), Patricia Pereyra and Band with musical direction by Rafelito Mirabal and Guy Frometa (Dominican Republic) with special guest Alex Jacquemin (France), and Edgar Molina (Dominican Republic).

Dominican Republic Jazz Festival dates and locations include:

• Nov. 6 – Puerto Plata, Independence Park

• Nov. 7 – Sosúa, Hotel Casa Marina Amphitheater

• Nov. 8-9 – Cabarete, Cabarete Beach

The Caribbean jazz ensemble BwaKoré of Martinique will perform a special concert at Parque Mirador in Sosua on Saturday, Oct. 11 as an opening event for the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, sponsored in part by the French Embassy of the Dominican Republic and Alianza Francesa. In addition to the concert, BwaKoré will offer free music workshops at the Casa de Arte in Sosua for children in the Strings program, in conjunction with FEDUJAZZ and Sosua City Council.

Since the beginning, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival has presented internationally renowned Latin Grammy and Grammy Award winning musicians such as Chuck Mangione, David Sánchez, Ray Baretto, Néstor Torres, Chucho Valdés, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Arturo Sandoval. Additional jazz greats have included Stanley Jordan, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Danilo Pérez, El Canario, Ismael Miranda, Cuco Valoy among many other talents.

Sponsors for the 18th Dominican Republic Jazz Festival include Ron Macorix, JetBlue, United States Embassy, Berklee Global Jazz Institute, Sea Horse Ranch Luxury Resort, Ultravioleta, Millennium Resort & Spa, Casa Linda, the Municipality of Sosua and Cibao Recycling.

For more info visit drjazzfestival.com.

Sosua’s beginnings: a haven for Jews fleeing Hitler

Today the Dominican Republic welcomes thousands of sun-worshippers to Sosúa, its popular North-Coast beach resort. In 1940, the Dominican Republic also welcomed travelers, but they were hardly tourists: they were Jews fleeing Nazi terror – and in all the world, this was the only haven offered to them.

The unlikely notion of a Jewish colony in the tropics had its origin in a seemingly unrelated event on March 12, 1938 – the day Hitler’s troops marched into Austria. The next day, the Anschluss (unification) of Austria with the German Reich was declared.

Austrians greeted the takeover with wild enthusiasm. When Hitler crossed the border at Linz that evening, a joyous throng awaited him at the city hall. Göring reported in a telephone call, “There is unbelievable jubilation in Austria. We ourselves did not think that sympathies would be so intense.”

The elation climaxed in a triumphant speech by Hitler in Vienna, before a wildly cheering crowd of 250,000.

Within just a few days of the Anschluss, 70,000 political dissidents and Jews had been arrested.

In the three years since the Nuremberg laws canceled Jewish citizenship in 1935, some 150,000 Jews had fled Germany, mainly for Palestine. But Britain’s strict immigration policies kept most out. The Anschluss had now made some 200,000 more Jews stateless; thousands fled or were dumped by the Gestapo into neighboring countries.

President Franklin Roosevelt had come under mounting pressure from Jewish groups to confront Germany over its treatment of Jews and to push Congress to liberalize American immigration laws. But America was mired in isolationism, which had reawakened in the 1920s and took on a distinctly anti-Semitic stripe in the ’30s.

In many circles it was believed that just as the “Jew Deal” had been engineered by Jews, so would be America’s entanglement in the European war. Likewise, there was entrenched opposition to opening America’s doors to a flood of Jewish refugees. The New York Times of November 26, 1938 reported that New York department stores had to deny rumors they would fire a given number of employees and replace them with Jewish refugees.

The world, said Chaim Weizmann, “was divided into two camps: One, of countries expelling the Jews and the other, of countries which refused to admit them.”

After the Anschluss, Roosevelt realized Europe would soon be awash with refugees. Eleven days later, he invited thirty-three nations to confer on the refugee problem at Évian-les-Bains, France. FDR had carefully circumscribed the goals of the conference to head off opposition: The agenda stipulated that no nation would be expected to admit more refugees than its present laws permitted, making it crystal clear that the haven sought was to be outside the United States. And lest Germany take offense, no mention was made of that country or of Jews.

Sure enough, at Évian the U.S. would do no more than cut existing State Department red tape for German and Austrian refugees. Thus, for the first time, the U.S. would allow the number of such immigrants to reach the legal quota of 25,957. (The U.S. fulfilled its annual quota of German-Austrian immigrants only once in the next six years – in 1939, following the shocked reaction to Kristallnacht, in November 1938.)

The other delegates readily followed suit: France had taken enough refugees; Britain was not a “receiving nation” and Palestine, of course, was off limits; a senior Canadian official said “None is too many.” (A number of high Canadian officials of the day were anti-Semitic, including the prime minister.)

The sole glimmer of hope came when the delegate from the Dominican Republic, Virgilio Molina, rose to declare that his country would take in up to 100,000 Jewish refugees as settlers on the land – a staggering number for a small country of only 1.5 million.

The conference closed after creating a permanent body, the Intergovernmental Committee on Political Refugees (IGC) to study the problem further.

Ironically, the idea of saving European Jews had originated with Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, the ruthless dictator who ruled the Dominican Republic with an iron fist.

Trujillo, widely known as el Jefe, exerted absolute power over the populace with unbridled brutality and a secret police force that didn’t shrink from torture and murder to achieve its ends. Though the nation’s populace was poor, he was counted among the world’s richest men, because he and his relatives used the country as a family business.

The dictator was so consummately evil it was difficult to imagine. He had an interest in medicine; so, Mengele-like, he tested his crackpot health remedies on his unfortunate underlings. The previous year, he had drawn worldwide criticism for beheading 20,000 Haitians living as illegal aliens in the Dominican Republic.

Why would a Latin-American mass murderer offer to save the Jews from a European mass murderer? Some thought he wanted the European influx to lighten the racial stock of the country. Others thought he wanted to curry favor with the United States by helping Roosevelt with the refugee problem.

Perhaps the simplest explanation is the most convincing. When Trujillo’s daughter Flor de Oro was attending school in Paris, the other girls snubbed her because she was dark-skinned. A Jewish girl, Lucy Cahn, befriended her and el Jefe never forgot the kindness: when Lucy married, he gifted the couple with a tobacco plantation.

* * *

More than eight months passed while the United States studied alternative settlement areas, from Alaska to British Guiana (now Guyana).

Finally, the State Department acted on the Dominican plan. The American Jewish Joint Agricultural Corporation was chosen to finance the project. It would be headed by James N. Rosenberg, a western Pennsylvania attorney and philanthropist renowned for his work with refugees.

The Dominican Republic Settlement Association was incorporated under New York State law, with Rosenberg as its president. DORSA would select the settlers, transport them to the Dominican Republic, then support and train them until they were self-sufficient.

Rosenberg drew up the most extraordinary agreement ever made between a corporation and a government. It contained a bill of rights guaranteeing the settlers and their descendants the irrevocable right to live in the Dominican Republic “free from molestation, discrimination or persecution, with full freedom of religion.” It was signed by Trujillo himself on January 30, 1940, in the presence of representatives of the IGC, DORSA and the U.S. State Department.

In essence, the bloody dictator of this tiny nation had returned to Jewish refugees the very rights Hitler had taken away.

Rosenberg and his second-in-command, Dr. Joseph Rosen, an agronomist, traveled to the Dominican Republic to select a site for the settlement. They had worked together before, resettling urban Russian Jews in the Crimea. They selected Sosúa, a 26,000 acre abandoned banana plantation donated by Trujillo.

The dictator was now dubbed El Benefactor by the largest newspaper in the republic, which declared Sosúa would be the largest Jewish settlement, second only to that in Palestine.
On May 11, 1940, more than two years after the Anschluss, the first 37 Jewish settlers arrived at the settlement. A total of 600 would come, but the rescue of 100,000 Jews was not to be.

The refugees found themselves in a place that must have seemed like paradise. Sosúa was situated on a striking crescent bay surrounded by palm, mango, and avocado trees, its tropical climate moderated by cooling trade winds.

But conditions were not totally bucolic: there were snakes, malaria, no running water or electricity, and unfamiliar foods. The colonists were cultured, middle class – habitués of cafés and the opera. To them, working the land in a jungle outpost was utterly alien.

To make matters worse, most of them spoke German; only one spoke Spanish. Worst of all, though now safe, they knew that thousands left behind in Europe – including their families – had been less fortunate. Some colonists were simply unable to adjust; one couple committed suicide together.

* * *

A cooperative system was set up, similar to Israeli kibbutzim. It was to be the source of constant friction and discontent. The colonists farmed the land; DORSA provided food, clothing, and social services. The settlers ate in a common dining room and slept in barracks-style buildings.

Communal groups were set up, each containing at least one married couple so the woman could do the cooking and laundering.

The colonists tried to raise a variety of crops – beans, corn, peppers, oranges, tomatoes, pineapple – but often could not find markets for their produce and had to dump large quantities in the bay.

Some ingenious solutions to problems were developed. Mongooses were imported to rid the colony of snakes. The settlers built windmills to pump rainwater down from the hills.

Gradually, they began to replace the society they had left behind with a new one, distinctly Sosúan. Longing for their lost cafés, they built a rustic surrogate in the jungle, Café Stockman. They also built a clinic, pharmacy, school, library, bank, theater, newspaper and synagogue. Local foods were adapted to recipes from home: potato salad was made from yams and dumplings from yucca. Though torn from a dozen European countries, they shared one experience: most had lost relatives; so the colony became their family.

The colonists abandoned farming and turned to livestock production, which proved far more successful. “If you sent four cows out to pasture, six came back,” Ernest Schreiner, one of the colonists, would later recall.

Two cooperatives were set up, to market meat and dairy products. But the Sosúans continued to chafe under the communal system. A normal family structure was lacking; wives were expected to cook and clean for the entire group.

Determined to make Sosúa successful, Rosenberg recruited a consultant in 1944: David Stern, director of Agricultural Colonization in Palestine for the Jewish Agency.

Stern eliminated much of the friction by instituting a moshav system. The colonists would continue to market their products collectively through the two cooperatives, but the land would be individually owned and worked by the settlers.

More difficult to solve was the problem of maintaining Jewish identity. The majority of the emigrants were secular Jews who had had little Jewish tradition in their lives. Men outnumbered women 2-1, and a number of them married Dominican women.

Attrition and intentional obstruction by the U.S. State Department kept the colony from growing beyond some 600 members. When the door from Europe was slammed shut in 1943, further growth from outside was impossible. The dream of rescuing 100,000 was dead and as a Jewish community, Sosúa seemed doomed as well.

But the anti-Semitism they had suffered awakened many of the colonists to their Jewishness, and they made a valiant effort to revive and hold on to it.

As time passed, the community acquired a number of Eastern European Jews whose lives had been steeped in Jewish tradition. They brought to Sosúa classic Yiddish plays, such as S. Ansky’s “The Dybbuk” and Shalom Aleichem’s “Mazel Tov.” A musical, “Die Romanische Hasena,” was so popular that it was presented later to audiences in the capital.

The settlers established a school with a teaching staff of six. The curriculum included Dominican history and Spanish, but also daily Hebrew and biblical history. The whole town joined in huge Purim and Chanukah festivals.

In 1990, more than 300 original settlers and their families returned from Canada and the United States to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sosúa’s founding; the theme was “50 Sosúa L’chaim.” Both these writers attended.

The secretary to the Dominican president addressed the returnees: “We’re so proud; the real saga is what you have accomplished here.” That night, Dominicans and Jews stood together, clapping to Spanish and Hebrew songs.

All agreed that Sosúa’s history must not be forgotten. To that end, a museum was dedicated to house artifacts of the settlement and photos from the era. The Sosúans felt the town was a place unique in the world – a town entirely populated by Holocaust survivors. They believed that present-day Jews should not forget what happened in Europe and should know that only the Dominican people welcomed Jews in their darkest hour. They must ever be vigilant, as dark days could come again.

Many reunion participants felt the years they spent in Sosúa were the most important in their lives, and feared the gathering would be their last. Indeed it was.

Today, Sosúa boasts a throng of tourist hotels that have wrought profound changes on the area, though Sosúa’s main street is virtually unchanged. The Jewish community is small – numbering fewer than 50 – but its impact on the Dominican Republic has been large. The dairy and meat cooperatives created by the refugees employed thousands of Dominicans over the years. The community still treasures the small, wood-frame synagogue where the original settlers married and held bar mitzvah ceremonies. It is still sometimes used for weddings.

After 68 years, few of those settlers remain. Luis Hess, age 100, was the longtime principal of the school that still bears his name. But Dezider Scheer was its first principal and founder. A teacher in Slovakia in 1938, he was told one day he could no longer teach because he was a Jew. He lost seventy family members in the war. After coming to Sosúa, he established the school and left a lifelong mark on its graduates.

We asked Sheer what the legacy of Sosúa was. He replied that he had seen pictures of children who perished in the Holocaust on display at Auschwitz.

“Walk the main street of Sosúa, and you will come to the school. We had sixty children. They lived to become engineers, doctors. All have made their mark. Their happy faces look down at us from pictures, still hanging in the school. They are the same age as those in the pictures at Auschwitz. The children who lived are the legacy of Sosúa.”

By: Myrna & Robert Ulfik / The Jewish Press / Wednesday, December 03 2008

Myrna and Robert Ulfik are award-winning radio, television and print journalists. Their primary interest is reporting unique stories of the Jewish experience around the world.

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Sosua Bay Casino to host webcam gambling

The Caribbean Casino and Gaming Corporation was in the business news
for the second time this week, having earlier announced that live
betting cameras and software will be installed over table games,
including Texas Hold ‘Em, at its Sosua Bay Grand Casino in the
Dominican Republic within the next two weeks for Internet live betting
purposes.

In its latest announcement, CCGC advises that it has entered into a six
month online test simulcast broadcast agreement with Kenilworth Systems
Corporation to support its recently signed agreement with Trade
Broadcasting Corp to offer Texas Hold Em Tournaments throughout the
Caribbean Islands.

CCGC plans to relocate its smaller Grand Casino to an adjoining 250
room hotel that will include a disco, four (4) restaurants, three (3)
pools and a vastly expanded casino to accommodate Caribbean Stud Poker
and Texas Hold Em tournaments. Kenilworth will complete the test before
the Grand Casino is relocated.

Kenilworth owns patents filed in the U.S. and other countries for systems and methods for
playing casino table-type games such as roulette, dice and baccarat in
an interactive manner at sites remote from the actual casino table at
which cameras follow the live game that is being played in strictly
regulated casinos. This allows players to wager as if they are in the
actual casino playing at tables rather than virtual or number generated
casino games from studios.

The patented technology includes the use of lottery-type terminals that
accept cash deposits while managing the wagering by using lottery data
systems that can easily identify problematic gamblers and limit or shut
down their compulsive gambling habits and also prevents underage
participation when state operated lotteries become involved.

Herbert Lindo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Kenilworth,
explained: “Simulcasts of remote casino table games to homes, cell
phones, public gathering places such as cafes, hotels, resorts, horse
race tracks and selected restaurants and bars is the direction of the
future.

“Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Switzerland and France have either passed or
are preparing legislation permitting only remote live games from their
own casinos with the same tax benefits, halting virtual wagering and
number generated games along with studio games. The reason we are
developing the software and the required equipment is to market the
live game broadcast technology together with licensing our patents.”

As part of the test agreement, among other considerations, Kenilworth
will pay one half of one percent for a period of ten years, from the
net, net win earnings from an estimated annual $500 billion worldwide
market in the not too distant future (up to an estimated $2.5 billion
annually). Kenilworth’s software and technical personnel will assist
Caribbean to complete the Texas Hold Em tournament broadcast system.

DC fire chief grilled on donations to Sosua

WASHINGTON — Reporters and the DC City Council have been trying to find out who in the city is behind an unusual deal sending a surplus fire engine and ambulance to the beach resort Sosua in the Dominican Republic. Answers have been hard to come by.

DC Fire and EMS Department Chief Dennis Rubin was the first on the hot seat in front of Phil Mendelson, the chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. As part of a regular budget hearing, Mendelson wanted to know why the department sent Deputy Chief Ronald Gill Jr. to Sosua for 6 days earlier in the year. Gill is in charge of fleet maintenance for the department.

Chief Rubin, who said he was unaware of the trip until after the fact, takes responsibility for the fire department’s actions and is sorry the trip was made. Assistant Chief Alfred Jeffrey gave permission for Gill’s travel as part of a delegation of city employees. Jeffrey was unable to tell Mendelson who else from the city went to Sosua and who in the city government approved the trip or the donation of the fire equipment.

The donation was made through the group Peaceoholics which works with young people in the city in an effort to curb violence. After the donation was made public Peaceoholics co-founder Ron Moten ordered the equipment returned to the city. It had made it as far as the Port of Miami.

Rubin and Jeffrey indicated this deal was in the works before either man was appointed to their positions in the department.

In one of a number of testy exchanges with the fire officials, Phil Mendelson said the answer to why Chief Jeffrey approved the travel defies logic and wanted to know why the assistant chief didn’t ask more questions.

The whole deal is now part of an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General. Mendelson believes there may be a conflict of interest because he says that office approved the emergency rule making allowing Peacoholics to be given the fire equipment.

From: Dave Statter
STATter911.com

Casa Linda: a secure private community

Casa Linda is a gated community tucked in behind the highway between Sosua and Cabarete. This community has long been known as one of the best values in the region. Casa Linda is a community of private villas situated of quiet streets. Owners can opt to include their home in the rental program run by management. For more information visit the Casa Linda Website

Sea Horse Ranch: luxury villa sales and rentals

Sea Horse Ranch is a distinctive oceanfront villa resort on the north coast of the Dominican Republic offering exclusivity in a setting that is among the Caribbean’s best.

This extraordinary gated community was designed by the award-winning architects of Edward Durrell Stone Associates for luxury living that is private, quiet and independent.

The beach club at Sea Horse Ranch

The beach club at Sea Horse RanchThe beach club at Sea Horse Ranch

With home sites for building, villas for sale and vacation or long term rental villas, Sea Horse Ranch was developed with a master plan that highlights and preserves the natural environment ~ over 250 lush acres of inspiring terrain.

Sea Horse Ranch is truly a first class Dominican Republic real estate development where our international clientele enjoys all the amenities of our resort, along with the magnificent coast and activities of the surrounding area.

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Mel Tours

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An elegant setting at Waterfront Restaurant

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Rocky’s Bar & Hotel in Sosua

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