- CONFIRMADO WEEKLY June,
1966, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Spanish to English Translation
"Baruch Tenembaum & The Argentine
House in Israel
Interfaith-Interculture. Where and when did it start?"
His friends joke referring to him as
"the bishop". He is 33 years old and is the
first Latin American Jew to be received by the Pontiff
of the Catholic Church: that occurred on the morning of
January 13, 1965, when the Vatican invited Baruch Tenembaum,
who had just completed organizing the Holy Land pilgrimage
of Father Oglietti, Cascón y Vercovich from Argentina.
The interview was long, almost one hour in length: Paul
VI and Tenembaum cordially conversed in English, Hebrew,
Italian, and Spanish. Later, the Vatican was to issue
a stamp that would commemorate this meeting while Tenembaum
would reduce the hours he was working for the Office of
Tourism in order to embark on an ambitious project, almost
unthinkable without the powerful influence of the Vatican
Council's ideas. It deals with the construction of an
"Argentina House" in Israel, a broadcaster of
the culture, artistic and literary life of Argentina.
Monsignor Ernesto Segura, member of
the Executive Board and President of the Consulting Board
of Argentine House in Israel recently stated, "Tenembaum
was the first to have this idea, it was something that
fortunately found fertile soil." Christians, Jews,
and adherents of other faiths have found in it a medium
whereby they may express the ideas of brotherhood, the
fraternal reencounter of people from different creeds,
proposed by the Vatican II Council. The executive board
of Argentine House presided by Miguel Podolsky, including
Jorge Luis Borges, Luis Maria Boffi Boggero, member of
the Supreme Court, Carlos Sanchez Viamonte, and Tenembaum
himself, hope that the three buildings that will comprise
the Argentine House in Israel will be inaugurated on July
Confirmado: What will Argentine House
in Israel consist of?
Baruch Tenembaum: There will be
a building in Jerusalem, where with the help of the University
of Jerusalem, we will promote the best expressions of
Argentine culture. Another building will be in Nazareth:
it will be a Catholic shrine, for the Argentine Catholics
that will visit the Holy Land. Finally, the last building
will be in the commercial center of Israel, Tel-Aviv,
and it will be a focus point for tourists and students.
C: And what tasks will it have?
BT: We will feature a permanent
exhibit of Argentine painters, concerts and conferences.
We will open the first Spanish-language library. Mr. Podolsky
has arranged scholarships from various institutions that
will finance the studies of Argentine students there.
C: What did the Argentine-Jewish colony
in Israel think of this idea?
BT: What would you like me to say?
They took it with a large measure of surprise. Monsignor
Segura just told me that many Catholic priests from the
interior of the country [Argentina] have written to him
offering their assistance. Don't forget that the first
associate of Argentine House in Israel is Monsignor Caggiano
it isn't only religious representatives that are involved.
There are many Atheist Argentines that have begun to show
support for the idea: they're interested in the broadcasting
of Argentine culture in a key spot in the Middle East.
C: Do you fear that Argentine House
will simply become another bureaucratic institution?
BT: I don't think so because we
embody real and concrete necessities. What's more, it
will be a living entity within Israeli society. Few are
aware that Spanish is Israel's fourth predominant language:
Hebrew comes first, then English, Arabic and Spanish.
The expelled Sepharadic Jews of Spain speak Ladino, a
Spanish in the style of Cervantes
C: What made you personally assume
this seemingly difficult and tiring task?
BT: My personal motivations are
probably the same as those of others who participate.
I believe it is of utmost importance that Argentines of
various extractions live in close harmony with each other.
Until recently, very few Jewish people had Christian friends,
much as it was rare to see Methodists coming into contact
with Orthodox Christians. That's why I was moved by the
ideals which inspired the Vatican Council. This is a country
[Argentina] whose richness lies in its cultural multiplicity.
Doing something together is what gets people to appreciate
C: What will be the cost of this enterprise?
BT: It's still too early to tell.
Whatever the cost, it will get accomplished. The ideals
go forth at increasing speed and the contributions are
mounting day after day.
C: Everyone credits you with the original
idea of starting Argentine House in Israel.
BT: It's not a coincidence that
this idea occurred to me. Many times, when my job took
me to Israel, I noted that there is no place for me to
read an Argentine newspaper there. I then wanted Argentina
to have a "storefront" in the Middle East where
people could learn how Argentines write, paint and compose.