Collection on Jewish Organizations in Cuba
Scope and Content
The items in the collection were created by different Jewish communal organizations in Havana, such as the umbrella organization Centro Israelita de Cuba (Jewish Center of Cuba), Ajdut Israel (The Orthodox Ashkenazi Jewish Community), Unión Sionista de Cuba (Zionist Union of Cuba), the Women's International Zionist Organization or WIZO, and the Colegio Hebreo Autónomo del Centro Israelita de Cuba (Autonomous School of the Jewish Center of Cuba). The majority of these items are letters; they also include written agreements, registry entries, affidavits issued to immigrants to both Cuba and the US, and tickets to different events. The collection documents immigration from the 1920s to Cuba and to the US, organizational life that included communal and cultural events, growing Zionist activity, and religious practice. Tickets to the Mexican poet Jacob Glantz's public reading of poetry and to the presentations by the author Aaron Zeitlin from New York and the editor of the Argentinian Di Presse Jacob Botoshansky highlight the Cuban Jewish community's contacts with literati in other countries in the Americas and that Yiddish was a widely spoken language among the members of the Cuban community as it was the case in prewar US and Argentina. That before World War II the majority of the communal correspondence in Cuba was conducted in Yiddish, further reinforces this impression. Yet, a letter in Hungarian in the correspondence illustrates that, after all, Yiddish was not every member's chosen language of communication in the community. The majority of the documents from the postwar period illustrate the Zionist activities in the community. Whereas the registries offer data of particular community members' personal backgrounds, including their countries of origin, some of the documents produced by the different organizations are informative about the composition and politics of these organizations' leadership. Folder 11, titled "Miscellaneous," houses a personal, typed letter from one of the leaders of the community Pete Snyder, two paper bags printed for the 13th anniversary of Israel, as well as a typed list of all the documents included in the collection. It includes minimal information, such as date and author.
- 1925 - 1970
Language of Materials
Includes materials written in Yiddish, Spanish, English, German, and Hungarian.
The collection is open for research.
The records included in this collection document the activities of Jewish organizations in Cuba from the 1920s to 1967. This period includes the last of the three major Jewish immigration waves which included the Eastern European Jews. During this period, also marked by economic hardships and antisemitism, many Jews left the island for the US, as documented in the communal registries and correspondences. Nonetheless, during the 1930s and 1940s, the growing community, which comprised several different welfare, educational, health, and religious organizations held a broad variety of communal events, such as the traditional New Year's ball at the end of December, religious festivities during the high holidays, meetings, literary events, theater performances, and more. The community helped its members financially as well and also aided those who emigrated to the US, as Chaim Lachman's case suggests. The community represented Lachman vis-à-vis the Cuban authorities to help him acquire a certificate of good moral conduct necessary for him to start a new life in the US. The community also cooperated with HIAS and the JOINT by offering aid for individuals searching for relatives with whom they lost contact both before and after World War II. From the postwar period, items produced by the Zionist Union of Cuba and WIZO record the community members' Zionist activity. No records from the revolution are preserved in this collection.
1.26 Linear Feet (3 Boxes)
This collection sheds light on various aspects of Jewish communal life in Cuba from the 1920s until the 1960s. The documents in the collection were created by different Jewish organizations in Havana. The majority of these letters, written agreements, registry entries, affidavits issued to immigrants to both Cuba and the US, and tickets to different events are in Yiddish, also signaling that they are related to the lives of the last large wave of Jewish immigrants to Cuba, mostly from Eastern European Ashkenazi communities.
The items in the collection are arranged topically and chronologically.
University of Florida Smathers Library Building
Alternate Form of Finding Aid
This guide is available in Spanish at https://www.uflib.ufl.edu/findingaids/Spanish/mss0558.pdf.
Purchased in 2019 and 2021.
- A Guide to the Jewish Organizations in Cuba Collection
- Finding aid created by Katalin Franciska Rac
- January 2020 (Updated August 2023)
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is written in English.
Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository
George A. Smathers Libraries
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