Max Berger escaped Poland in the 1940s and relocated to Cuba where he would father a child named Enrique Berger, better known in our community as Kiki Berger. Father and Son would escape Cuba and relocate to the United States where Kiki would take over the family business. Last night, due to complications from a heart attack suffered on Friday, Kiki Berger passed away.
From his offices in a bright red building in the Little Havana section of Miami known as Cuban Crafters he attracted many tourists and regulars. But his business went beyond retailer as he had his own factory in Nicaragua making cigars with his own brand, as well as for others in the business.
When I first moved to Miami, he invited me into his office and began to talk to me in Yiddish. I was lost, he assumed that because my last name was Stein I understood the language my grandparents spoke before I converted away from Judaism. I nodded pretending to understand the words he was using. One word I remember, is mensch. Kiki Berger was a mensch.
Involved in politics to help the community Kiki Berger set up meetings at Cuban Crafters. He offered a place for people of the community to meet to play dominoes and talk about Cuba or United States. I remember sitting with Nestor Miranda and Kiki Berger enjoying a cup of cuban coffee and Kiki always asking if Miami was treating me ok.
Nestor Miranda of Miami Cigar & Company who has been friends with Kiki since their days in Cuba says, “Farewell my dear friend, I will miss your smile, your Cuban Coffee and your passion for making great cigars. Rest in Peace my brother”.
There is a Jewish Prayer for those who have departed…
O G-d, full of compassion, Who dwells on high, grant true rest upon the wings of the Shechinah (Divine Presence), in the exalted spheres of the holy and pure, who shine as the resplendence of the firmament, to the soul of Kiki Berger, son of Max Berger who has gone to his [supernal] world, for charity has been donated in remembrance of his soul; may his place of rest be in Gan Eden. Therefore, may the All-Merciful One shelter him with the cover of His wings forever, and bind his soul in the bond of life. The Lord is his heritage; may he rest in his resting-place in peace; and let us say: Amen.
Amen. Kiki Berger, you will be missed by those who knew you. Today I will smoke a cigar and drink some Cuban Coffee and remember your kindness.