Leading Jewish organizations hailed the release of Alan Gross from a Cuban prison where he had been held for five years.
Just last week, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, sent a letter to the President thanking him “for your work on behalf of Alan Gross” and urging him “to continue, even intensify, these efforts, so that he may greet the new year a free man at home with his family.”
Upon Gross’s release, Agudah Israel of America issued a statement:
“Chanukah is a time when we offer praise and thanks to the Al-mighty for His blessings and miracles. The release and return of Alan Gross from Cuban incarceration is truly a modern day Chanukah miracle, and it fills us with deep gratitude to, in the words of the Amidah, ‘He Who frees captives.’ Mr. Gross’ expedited liberation seemed a distant dream, and now it is a dream come true.
“We express our heartfelt thanks to President Obama, whose dedicated and determined efforts led to Mr. Gross’ release. And we pray that Mr. Gross will adjust to his return to freedom enveloped in the love and support of his family and friends.”
The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) released a statement saying, “We are extraordinarily grateful to President Obama for taking the necessary steps to secure the release of Alan Gross and ensure his safe return to the United States. Although Alan Gross’ release was unquestionably warranted on a humanitarian basis, the President recognized Cuba’s reluctance to free him and worked diligently to make certain that he was finally united with his family.
“As we celebrate the holiday of Chanukah and commemorate the miraculous victory of the Jewish nation over our oppressors, it is certainly fitting that President Obama facilitated the rescue of one of our Jewish brothers at this time and helped him attain the ultimate victory of freedom from tyranny and brought him home,” the NCYI statement concluded.
In a joint statement, Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, declared, “We are most pleased by the reports of the release of Alan Gross from imprisonment in Cuba and await his return to the Unites States. We are especially pleased that he will be reunited with his family in time for the celebration of the Chanukah festival.
“The Presidents Conference has long been active in the effort to seek Mr. Gross’s release and petitioned U.S. and foreign governments, as well as Cuban officials, and met high ranking leaders of the Castro government. In this, we worked closely with the Gross family and their attorneys, as well as the Washington JCRC, Jewish Federations of North America, and other groups. His family and friends never lagged in their efforts…”
”We appreciate the many efforts by U.S. and foreign governments, religious leaders of all faiths, businessmen and others who interceded on Mr. Gross’s behalf. We know the decision to release the Cuban three was not an easy one. We appreciate the efforts of President Obama and Vice President Biden in bringing this about,” said Sugarman and Hoenlein.