October 13, 2003

U.S. Congress Renders Tribute to Baruch Tenembaum


”Living Proof That One Man Can Make a Difference”

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct. 13, 2003–On Thursday, October 16th 2003, Baruch Tenembaum, the founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) will receive a tribute from the U.S. Congress in the Washington office of Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA). This tribute, traditionally reserved for luminaries who have exhibited exemplary feats in their respected fields, has been bestowed on select individuals, including, the Dalai Lama, Dr. Martin Luther King on the 30th anniversary of his assassination, Robert Kennedy, Rosalyn Carter, Ken Burns-documentary filmmaker and Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist.

Congressman Tom Lantos, Co-Chairman of The House of Representatives’ Human Rights Caucus (D-California) and the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, proposed this tribute. Lantos and his wife Annette, were saved by Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish Diplomat, in Hungary during WWII.

In his speech at the House of Representatives Lantos said: ”Mr. Speaker, even before Mr. Tenembaum started to work for Raoul Wallenberg’s cause, he had lived an extraordinary life. He was devoted to supporting the Jewish community in Argentina and to creating a deeper understanding between Jews and Catholics worldwide. Tenembaum’s outstanding commitment to the Jewish and Catholic communities has earned him accolades and honors from Pope Paul VI and from Monsignor Antonio Caggiano, Cardinal Primate of Argentina.”

Tenembaum was born in 1933 in Argentina. After studying in the Seminary for Rabbinical Studies, he worked as a teacher, taught Hebrew and Bible and translated classical Jewish scripts. In 1997 he founded the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, a non-profit organization with branches in New York, Buenos Aires, Jerusalem and Caracas aimed at creating a living memorial to Wallenberg, a Swedish Diplomat who saved close to 100,000 Jews during WWII. ”This exceptional person is truly an inspiration to us all. Like the man whose legacy he works tirelessly to preserve, Mr. Tenembaum is living proof that one man can make a difference,” concluded Lantos. Baruch Tenembaum has never received a salary and/or other financial compensation for his community work which he has done as a volunteer.

The Ceremony will take place on October 16th, 11:15 am, at the office of Congressman Tom Lantos, The U.S. House of Representatives 2413 Rayburn Building Washington DC, USA

More About Baruch Tenembaum

Baruch Tenembaum was born at the ”Las Palmeras” colony, a Santa Fe province settlement for Jewish immigrants escaping from the Russian pogroms of 1880. The grandson and son of Jewish ‘gauchos’ he became a professor of Hebrew and Yiddish language and literature, the Old Testament and philosophy.

In 1965 Baruch Tenembaum was the Argentinian promoter of the first visit by a Pope to Jerusalem and was subsequently received by Pope Paul VI. Mr. Tenembaum launched the idea of establishing interfaith monuments by promoting the creation of a fresco by the Argentine master painter Raul Soldi at the main church in Nazareth, which was carried out in 1968.

In early 1976 Baruch Tenembaum was kidnapped by rightwing extremists belonging to the Triple A (Argentine Anti subversive Alliance) a clandestine state terrorist organization founded under the aegis of Jose Lopez Rega, a sinister character of great influence during the government of President Isabel Martinez de Peron. Mr. Tenembaum was accused by these terrorist groups of ”infecting the Catholic Church with the virus of Judaism” and ”of spreading ideas of alleged coexistence so as to destroy Christian principles” through his inter-faith work. In a dramatic turn of events, his wife Perla volunteered as a hostage, and was also kidnapped herself. After his release, and during the years of the military dictatorship Baruch Tenembaum did not visit Argentina but continued dedicating his life to humanitarian causes. He searched for gentiles who helped Jews during the Second World War including Dr. Alejandro Pou in Uruguay and Mrs. Emilie Schindler in Argentina.

In 1997 Baruch Tenembaum promoted the idea of installing a showcase dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust inside the Buenos Aires Cathedral. Also in 1997 he founded, along with US Congressman Tom Lantos, The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, (IRWF) with the mission of promoting the life and work of Raoul Wallenberg. The Swedish diplomat is credited with saving up to 100,000 Jews from certain death in Budapest in 1944-45 and finally disappeared in hands of the Soviet army. His fate is still unknown.

About the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) endeavors to promote civic courage among high school and university students around the world as a democratic virtue that is critical in fighting intolerance, racism and violence. The foundation focuses on three core messages: Holding your own opinion even though it is against the most powerful people and acting accordingly; Opposing illegitimate or immoral orders; and Helping and defending the weak and the victims of violence and aggression.

Members of the IRWF include more than 50 Heads of State, 30 Nobel Peace Prize Winners and countless Mayors and Governors around the World. More information may be found at

Speech of Rep. Tom Lantos in the Congressional Record.

International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
Esther Loewy, 646-270-0808
Email: esther@loewydavid.com

Source: International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation