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Abraham Marcus Matterin Dead at 67

May 13, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Abraham Marcus Matterin, one of the prominent members of the Cuban Jewish community who remained in the country after the revolution led by Fidel Castro, died in Havana May 3, it was reported here today by Jacobo Kovadloff, director of South American Affairs of the American Jewish Committee. Matterin was 67 years old.

Born in Kovno, Lithuania, he and his family came to Cuba in 1924. Although he did not finish high school, he became an important figure in Spanish and Yiddish literature. An activist and gifted organizer, Matterin was General Secretary of Patronato Hebreo de la Habana, the country’s principal Jewish agency.

He was the author of many books, including, “Jose Marti and Racial Discrimination” and “The Jews and the Cuban Flag,” and translated into Spanish works of Yehuda Halevi, a Passover Haggadah and a study on Theodor Herzl. He also helped to develop magazines and the community library to which he devoted his energies until his death.

Kovadloff, who visited Matterin twice in the past year, said “his home was a small museum of Jewish life in Cuba.” There were photographs of him with Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Gabriela Mistral, the Chilean poet; a complete collection of Marti’s works; and documents on Jewish contributions to Cuban independence. At the time of his death he was in the midst of writing a history of Jewish life in Cuba.

In 1981, Matterin visited friends and relatives in the U.S. for two months, under the auspices of the AJCommittee and HIAS. Both organizations have sent condolence messages to Dr. Jose Miller, chairman of the Havana Jewish community. Matterin never married.

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