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N.Y. rabbi meets with jailed American subcontractor in Cuba

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HAVANA — A New York rabbi has met with imprisoned American subcontractor Alan Gross in Cuba, describing him as upbeat and concerned about family members back home.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier said he spent about an hour and a half Tuesday with Gross in the Havana facility where he's being held.

Schneier said he brought Gross a prayer shawl and pastries, and they prayed together to mark the eve of the Jewish holiday of Purim. The rabbi said, "Purim is a festival of miracles, so we all pray that a miracle will allow us to see a resolution of the pain and suffering of all involved."

Gross is serving a 15-year prison sentence stemming from his work importing satellite and other communications equipment onto the island under a USAID-funded democracy-building program. Cuba considers such programs subversive, and he was convicted of crimes against the state. Gross maintains that he was only trying to help Cuban Jews improve their Internet capability.