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About Cuban Judaica

The Cuban Judaica collection comprises materials held in the library of the Temple Beth Shalom (Gran Sinagoga Bet Shalom) in Havana, Cuba. The synagogue library contains over 10,000 books, which were first gathered and arranged by Abraham Marcus Matterin, the founder of the cultural group, La Agrupacion Cultural Hebreo Cubana. In addition to Matterin’s own works, the materials in the library include many rare Yiddish publications from the early 20th century, as well as little-known works produced in Cuba beginning in the 1930s. The Library as a whole provides a complete snapshot of Cuban Jewish intellectual, cultural, religious and political life as it evolved and progressed during the 20th century.

Among the rare publications included here are Habanera Lebn, the main Cuban Jewish newspaper published between 1932-1960; Israelia, a Spanish-language newspaper which circulated as a monthly during the 1950s, as well as many other Cuban Jewish publications. This collection will also provide access to the synagogue library’s wealth of Jewish publications from other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America. 

The synagogue library digitization project is a partnership between the George A. Smathers Libraries, the Isser and Price Library of Judaica under the auspices of its NEH Challenge Grant, la Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba and la Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba José Martí.