rescue of its culture. It holds several fonds that transmit various aspects of this rescue. On the other hand and at the same time, the importance of keeping the historic memory of the Jewish minority of this origin is implicit, because it forms an inseparable part of the contemporary history of Mexico. The main fonds are:
1) ANTIQUE HEBREW FONDS:
It comprises almost 1,400 Hebrew books that were printed between the 16th century and the Second World War. The translations of Hebrew sources, particularly those from the Bible to other languages and to bilingual editions, have been incorporated. Of our 1,400 Hebrew volumes, some 120 deal with profane knowledge such as history, bibliography, geography, general philosophy, linguistics, psychology and belles-lettres. The rest, that is, 92% of the fonds and almost the totality of the oldest section, are religious books. We must stress that in Jewish tradition, a religious book is usually not a devotional text like in Christianity, but rather a work of hermeneutic or juridical erudition. The 83 doctrinal books and the 145 books of liturgy occupy only 6% and 10% of the fonds respectively, while 75% deal with the exegesis of the sacred texts. 463 volumes refer to the Bible in the form of editions, commentaries and homiletic explorations; 265 volumes contain texts and explanations of the Talmud and 368 are devoted to the compilation of medieval and modern codes of rabbinic jurisprudence as well as its interpretation and practical application.
Most of these books were edited in the four centers of Polish Judaism of that time: Krakow and Lvov (Lemberg) in the Austro Hungarian Empire where modern Hebrew typography had its origin and Warsaw and Vilnius in the Tsarist empire. The volumes edited before 1850 are 102: one in the second half of the 16th century; two in the first half of the 17th century; five in the second half of the same century; 22 in the first half of the 18th century; 29 in the second half of the same century and 43 in the first half of the 20th century.
The collection is of special interest for two reasons: the first, because it is the only one of its kind in Mexico and the second, because of the extraordinary historic saga that brought it here.
Our Hebrew volumes from Frankfort or Warsaw evoke, in the words of Michel Foucalt, a strong “heterotopic” element, because they set in motion the ambiguous relationship of the Mexicans towards the deeply religious faraway world of old Europe. The beauty of the historic Hebrew books may be a precise result of the richness of its intercultural references.
The fonds is divided into nine sections:
Order and mode of celebrating divine services. When we refer to Jewish religious practices, we call the prayers and acts in the synagogue service: liturgy. When worship ceased at the Jerusalem Temple, liturgy was based, in the first place, in reading the Torah (Bible) and in second place on the prayers. The Talmud only considers the morning and afternoon prayers as obligatory serving as a substitute for the daily sacrifices performed in olden days.
Name of a collection of documents kept from the time when the Jewish people were independent and that were part of their national literature. It was later canonized and under the name of Holy Scriptures is the basis of their religion, as well as that of the Christian and Moslem religions.
Nevi´im Rishonim, Earlier prophets (Books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings), with commentaries. Volume 2 of the Rabbinic Bible. Venice. Printing press of Juan de Gara, 1568, in folio. Specimen from an unknown European collection, donated by the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction Organization.
There are religious books for women in Yiddish: “Tsena Urena” and its commentaries. Paraphrase of the Pentateuch in Yiddish, with material from the Midrash and antique comments integrated; there is one written by Jacob b. Issac Ashkenazi of Janow (circa 1590) with reproductions of wood carvings of the 17th century editions.