A recent article in the online version of the Cleveland Jewish News described a typical example of conflict resolution in Costa Rica. Dental practitioner Dr. Yoav Taub and his wife arrived in the Juan Santamaria International Airport and tried to clear customs with a few days’ supply of kosher food.
As previously reported in The Costa Rica Star, importing food into our country can be a highly bureaucratic affair, and Dr. Taub could have seen his kosher products confiscated had it not been for a translator who explained to the customs agent the reason for his visit: to perform dental work for free on low-income people in Costa Rica who need it the most. The doctor explained to the Cleveland Jewish News that:
“The customs agent gave me a hug and said, ‘I love you.’ He wrapped up all the food, put it back and let us through.”
Dr. Taub did not know about the Glatt Kosher Center in Pavas, the only one of its kind in Costa Rica, but the Tico customs agent recognized that the doctor’s benevolence had more significance than import laws. A similar scene unfolded a half century ago in Limon, when about a hundred European Jews arrived in Costa Rica.
According to a recent article by Ilene Lerner, appearing in the San Diego Jewish World online publication, Tico immigration agents skirted regulations when faced with a group of Jews escaping persecution:
“After the Holocaust, a second group of 100 Jews landed in Limon, on the Caribbean coast, seeking refuge, where for the first time, they met Black people. According to the law [at the time], all immigrants were required to show that they had $25. The Jews arrived nearly penniless, but someone had $25, which, after being shown was passed to the next in line. [...] Customs Officials knew exactly what was going on, but allowed the Jews to enter because they understood that they were concentration camp survivors who needed a home.”