The decision was made by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, an educational NGO based in New York. The said organization, presided by Eduardo Eurnekian and founded by Baruch Tenembaum, consulted with numerous religious authorities regarding the adequacy of identifying a Jewish temple with the name of a Gentile. In this respect it is worth singling-out the opinion of the Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau, who enthusiastically welcomed this initiative.
Among other concepts, Chief Rabbi Lau points-out in his letter that “the heroic image of Raoul Wallenberg represents a symbol for all the inhabitants of the planet. This is a singular man, a Righteous among the Nations who, in the darkest era of history irradiated a powerful light of truth and devotion”.
“Raoul gave hope to thousands of wretched souls and to them; he was a life-saver. The circumstances of his disappearance, which even today are shrouded in mystery, have left an indelible wound in all our hearts”.
“It is clear that there is no Halachich objection to naming a synagogue after him. On the contrary: This would represent a minimal expression of recognition of goodness owed by so many Jews to this marvelous human being”.
The reconstruction works of the synagogue will start will full force after the site was declared as a Historical Monument by the Province of Santa Fe. The upgraded facilities will include a section with historical ornaments and services for tourists. The religious aspect will not be neglected as two Sifrei Torah (Scrolls of Law) will be reinstated, after undergoing thorough revision and approval, to replace the missing unites after fifty years of inactivity.The reconstruction works will be carried-out without the support of the government or any public entity. It will be financed entirely with private funds.
The reforms will be carried-out under an agreement signed in 2013 by the Governor of the province of Santa Fe, Antonio Bonfatti and the illustrious citizen of the province, Baruch Tenenbaum, native of Las Palmeras. At the same time, the provincial government took on the responsibility of performing maintenance tasks, after the completion of renovations and remodeling.
Once the work is completed, the province will assume the commitment of meeting the expenses required for the adequate maintenance of this historic building.
“In recent years the province promoted a historic preservation program consisting in the restoration of historic buildings throughout the province. Therefore, we did not hesitate to support this initiative, that encourages the preservation of our culture and our traditions,” said Bonfatti.
The synagogue in Las Palmeras is one of the oldest in the province of Santa Fe and is “a historical and architectural emblem for all Santa Fe,” added the governor.]]>
The presentation included a panel discussion by three theologians: Dr. Andreas Nachama (Jewish), Monsignor Toepel, Knight of the Holy Grave ad Jerusalem (Catholic) and Pastor Johannes Hildebrandt (Protestant). The panel was moderated by Pastor Annemarie Werner.
The book is a collection of Rabbi Levinson’s six teachers. The first one, referring to Rabbi Jeschua from Nazareth, is a testimony of his particular ideas and thoughts. Actor Romanus Fuhrmann read selected exerts from the book and musical tribute to Rabbi Levinson by Leonhard and Thomas Schmuckert was performed.]]>
On 26 January 2006 took place the opening of the exhibition ”Ein Visum furs Leben” (Visas for Life), of the Israel Foreign Ministry at the Vaterunser Kirche in Berlin. The hosts were Pastor Annemarie Werner, leader of the congregation, and Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. Ilan Mor, official of the Israeli Embassy in Germany delivered the opening speech.
Also on that day the Wallenberg Foundation presented the Angelo Roncalli Awards to three distinguished persons who, since decades, work in Germany for the interfaith dialogue and understanding. Without the efforts of this paramount figures Jewish-Christian dialogue would have been mucho more difficult after the Shoah.
Rabbi Professor Dr. Nathan Peter Levinson, guardian of Judaism and Jewish Life in Germany after WW II, builder of bridges and promoter of dialogue between Christians and Jews. Rabbi Levinson is the initiator of a Jewish high school in Heidelberg and for many years he was the President of the International Council for Christians and Jews (ICCJ) where he now holds the Honorary Presidency. He brought the headquarters of the Martin Buber House to Heidelberg from Great Britain.
Michael Mertes, responsible for the relations with Churches and other religious groups under the Helmut Kohl government. He worked intensely with the ICCJ, the Anti-Defamation League, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Congress and the Leo Baeck Institute, among other organizations.
Protestant Pastor Johannes Hildebrandt, founded the study group ”Judaism and Christianity” in the former DDR (East Germany) that fostered intensive relations with the Jewish community. He prohibited the building of a street that was planned to run through a Jewish cemetery; started the financial support of the Protestant Church in East Germany and protested against the public hostile attitude towards the State of Israel.
Among the endorsements received it is worth mentioning the letters of Tom Lantos, US Congressman; Guillermo Oliveri, Argentine Secretary of Cult; and Raphael Eldad, Israeli Ambassador. Among the attendants there were Enrique Candiotti, Argentine Ambassador to Berlin and Dr. Uwe Klett, Mayor of Marzahn-Hellersdorf.
On the occasion it was presented the last book of Rabbi Levinson -a prolific author with more than two dozen books published- ”Widerstand und Eigensinn” (Resistence and Perseverance).
Since 26 September 2004 there is inside the Vaterunser Kirche a Memorial Mural that pays tribute to the victims of the Shoah and all the people killed as a consequence of the terrorist attacks perpetrated to Jewish institutions in Buenos Aires.
This Mural is a replica of the one inaugurated in the Buenos Aires’ Cathedral in 1997. The installation of both pieces followed an initiative of Baruch Tenembaum. The Berlin Mural is the second Shoah Memorial installed inside a Christian Church.
Following the latest Shoah denials it is imperative not only to remember the victims of the Holocaust but also to pay due homage to all the silent heroes who saved the lives of people -Jewish and non-Jewish- persecuted by the Nazi regime. The Mural is a symbol that stands for the values of solidarity and civic courage with the aim of building bridges between religions and people of good will.]]>
Abigail Tenembaum, Vice President of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, presented the Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas Award to Sister Rose Thering in recognition for her work in improving the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, as well as fighting anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Luna Kaufman, Board Chair of the Sister Rose Endowment, accepted the award on Sister Rose’s behalf.
Sister Rose has devoted her life to the promotion of Christian-Jewish relations and has been dedicated to the fighting of anti-Semitism. Among her important achievements, she banned the doctrine that blamed Jews for the death of Jesus. Her valuable work was influential to the creation of the Second Vatican Council and Nostra Aetate, document that will significantly turn 40 years on October 28, 2005.
Sister Rose is professor emeritus of secondary education at Seton Hall University in South Orange, where she helped establish the school’s graduate department of Jewish-Christian studies in the early 1970s. Thering was instrumental in creating the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel in 1974 and helped design New Jersey’s state-mandated Holocaust education curriculum.
Winner of the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival’s Best Documentary Short Award and Nominee for the 2005 Best Documentary Academy Award, ”Sister Rose’s Passion” tells the story of this exceptional woman, who has spent her life fighting anti-Semitism and promoting Holocaust remembrance. Director Oren Jacoby and Sister Mary Boys were available for a Q&A session with the audience after the screening.
This is one of the many initiatives of The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, with branches in New York, Buenos Aires, Jerusalem and Caracas. The Foundation is a non-profit organization, whose goals are to promote peace among nations and people, as well as to develop educational projects based on concepts of solidarity, dialogue and understanding. We aim to promote this message and render homage to the actions and Heroes of the Holocaust, who like Raoul Wallenberg, risked their lives to save persecuted people during World War II. The Souza Dantas award is named after Brazilian diplomat Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas who saved hundreds in Europe during the Holocaust.]]>
A letter sent by Father Horacio Moreno, a Catholic priest who is the president of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, was read during the mass.
Buenos Aires, February 18th, 2005
Providence has blessed me with this extraordinary opportunity on which my friend, Bishop Carlos M. Franzini, will deliver to the Church of Las Palmeras the painting ”Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth”.
Baruch Tenembaum is the prodigal son of this town. He has also been my friend, my mentor and brother for the last 40 years. Here it is where he was born and brought up, where he worked, studied and dreamt, and from where he made our blessed Virgin known all over the world.
Let me add that our dear friend Baruch always underlines firmly -and I can assure that this is so- his doubtless Jewish identity, backed by an intellect full of knowledge of his People.
Based on the belief that we all must love and respect each other, Baruch personally endeavored to make his dream come true, the dream of having a painting set up in the most important church of Nazareth, where our Lord spent his early years, and which is amazingly depicted in the canvas which our beloved Bishop Carlos M. Franzini is delivering today to the People of Las Palmeras.
With the aim of fulfilling his dream Baruch traveled to the Holy Land together with Raúl Soldi, with whom he stayed during the 30 days’ work needed to create this wonderful piece of art.
The circle is being closed today, with a son of the Jewish colonization -perhaps the only one who headed seminars and cultural institutions, and was honored with international decorations- who returns to his home town with a message that, in his own words, reflects the Jewish woman most widely known along our History, the blessed Virgin Mary.
Brothers and sisters of Las Palmeras: On this occasion I will not omit mentioning that Baruch himself personally undertook the task of rebuilding and reopening the local Synagogue.
Spirit has therefore overcome matter. Las Palmeras is receiving today the blessings of Heaven and it is in the midst of this atmosphere that I send my embrace to Father Jorge Buchitari, to Bishop Carlos Franzini, to the Jewish men and the Jewish women, to the Christians, and even to those who lack faith.
May God bless these lands.
Father Horacio Moreno
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
Our country was founded following an apothegm set the course of our desire of achieving integration. It was coined by one of our most emminent statesmen, Juan Bautista Alberi. It says: ”To Govern is to Populate”.
Based on this proposition, and in the framework of a determined policy towards the attraction of immigrants, President Nicolás Avellaneda takes by means of the Law of Inmigration and Colonization passed in October 1876, what would be the kernel of a new social model for our country.
Hands were needed to toil the land. The policy of Open Doors encouraged new social conditions, permitted a new class mobility which would bring progress and prosperity to the Nation. It is in this context that the arrival of thirty families of brave men and women to this birthplace of palm trees took place. They came from Russian territories far away.
The story of these eight hundred or so persons, arriving in the steamship Wesser is well known. We also know how they were at first deceived, mistreated, housed in overcrowded dwellings in the area of Palacios, just a few kilometres from Las Palmeras.
The humanitarian task carried out by Dr. Loewnthal is also well known. He transmitted his concern about his compatriots to that other great humanitarian: Baron Maurice de Hirsch who, by means of the creation of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), provided the tool which enabled the Jewish colonization of these territories: Santa Fe, as well as Entre Ríos and the Province of Buenos Aires, to be carried out with dignity and in an orderly manner. Thus, these heroes from far away arrived, fleeing from horror and in search of liberty and bread, strengthened by the hope of toiling in a free country, in a republic where all men were equal, leaving behind the phantom of the Cossack, of Zarism, of antisemitic violence and discrimination.
Argentina became the Promised Land. When they arrived, the Pampa appeared to them as uncontainable: it possessed the size of freedom; but also the size of their own helplessness. The political ”Generation of the Eighties” made ‘the melting pot of races’ their official motto. Thus, to the ‘gringo’ (foreign) forefathers who came to ‘make their America’ were added the criollos (native argentineans) who, little by little, intruduced themselves into the microclimate of the colonies. In community and union, Catholics and Jews had to overcome all kinds of hardships, from beaurocratic matters to rigidities and demands that did not contemplate the difficulties that the labour of the soil implies. They learned to labour the land and they experienced failure, but with the strength of their determination they converted adversity into knowledge, and many of the innovations that resulted from that process are of common use in agricultural labor in this country today.
Draught and floods, locust and other calamities taught them that it was not convenient to depend exclusively in the grain harvest. So, they gave an important contribution to the Cooperative Project which from the Jewish settlements proceeded to all the rest of the country.
The official date of foundation of Las Palmeras is that of the installment of the first railway station, in 1904. But, as we said, many years before a prosperous community was already established. A community determined to carry on the effort of integration. Wombs that opened to the land, sons and daughters who somewhere in of the world feel the presence of their towns and carry them in their thoughts. Las Palmeras, blood that exists and works indefatigably day after day and does not give up.
And we speak of those sons and daughters who somewhere in the world feel the presence of their town. In that respect I must express the pride and honour that it is for me to share a meeting like this with Baruch Tenenbaum. Baruch is not just any Argentinean. He is not just any Jew. He is a humanist, he is a pacifist, he is a man of ecumenic thought who has carried the values of dialogue and understanding throughout the world, a man who has received an award from the Congress of the United States, a man who has been especially acknowledged by Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations.
A few days ago, we read an article in the newspaper La Nación about the documentary film ”Legado” (Legacy). It tells the story of the Jewish Colonization in Argentina. It was mostly filmed in Moisesville and other localities of this area. Thank you very much for this gesture, Mr. Tenenbaum, we shall keep a copy of this film with great affection, as we keep the things that we treasure in our hearts.
Town of Las Palmeras: happy birthday, thanks for the demonstrations of affections that you show us. I thank God for allowing me to be here in such an important moment as this. Thanks to Baruch Tenenbaum for his presence, Shalom, congratulations to all, and happy birthday again.
Translation from Spanish: María Lía Macchi]]>
Under the direction of the superintendent Victor Cravero and the co-ordination of Alexis Astore, Las Palmeras lived through three successive unforgettable days which ended on Sunday October 17th with the official celebrations.
More than 2500 visitors walked the streets of their small town, inhabited by no more than 700 people, to watch the inauguration of the museum ” Paseo de los Recuerdos” (Remembrance Promenade) and the small square in ” Homage to the Immigrants” in the rejuvenated railway station; the opening of the renewed school; the inauguration of the monolith and the water fountain in honor of the 100 years; the fireworks; the photograph display ” Life in images”; the different exhibitions in the Hatjia library; the religious ceremonies in the synagogue and in the chapel; the uncovering of plaques in Plaza General San Martín, the official parade, the huge luncheon followed by dancing, folklore and Jewish dances and, as a perfect ending, the show offered by the popular singer León Gieco.
As its founder, Baruj Tenenbaum, represented the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF). He was born in Las Palmeras and on this occasion he was honored for spreading world wide, the name of the ex- Jewish colony.
Likewise, the IRWF made a donation that allowed the only synagogue in the town, to be restored, to recover the two original Torahs ( Rolls of the Old Testament) and reconstruct its Arón Kodesh ( Sacred Ark), the same one in front of which, the teacher Máximo Yagupsky made his promise.
During the official act, eloquent words were spoken by the Governor of Santa Fe, Engineer Jorge Obeid, the Superintendent Cravero and by Monsignor Carlos Maria Franzini, Bishop of Rafaela, who received from Tenenbaum the painting ” Basílica de la Anunciación” ( The Basilica of the Annunciation), work painted by the argentine master of fine arts, Raúl Soldi. Governor Obeid, in the meantime, received a copy of the video ”Legacy” as a present from the IRWF.
Dozens of volunteers worked for nearly eight months for the completion of this festivity, which summoned not only the actual inhabitants but also the ex dwellers of Las Palmeras, who came from different places of Argentina and of the world.
The impeccable organization was made possible, thanks to the efforts of the Centenary Commission and its sub- commissions and the contributions of the local community.
Work done by the Mothers Club and the Cooperative of the School Nº 744, was astounding, as well as those of the families that lent clothes and handicrafts, together with the different exhibitions and work carried out by teachers, parents, students and young people from Las Palmeras and the members of all the other institutions of the small town.
The Jewish settlement in Argentina, that began at the end of the XIX th. century, is an unique chapter of world history produced by numerous immigratory currents that settled in the land of the ” pampas” , enhanced by the policy of encouragement to populate the region.
The law ruling population and settlement , in force since the presidency of Nicolás Avellaneda and later of Julio Argentino Roca, was the incentive that allowed the creation of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), founded by the Frenchman Baron Maurice de Hirsch.
From the moment of the arrival of the steamer Wesser at the port of Buenos Aires , with 136 families ( 824 people) ,the colonizing business was triggered off by the purchase of land in the province of Santa Fe and the foundation of the urban area of Mosesville, later named the ”Argentine Jerusalem”
Las Palmeras, situated only at 15 kilometers from Moses Ville, was born together with other neighboring colonies ( Palacios, Monigotes, etc.), as a consequence of the purchase of 118,242 hectares by the JCA from Doctor Palacios, owner of a cattle ranch ( estanciero) in the area.
In the year 1904 the train arrived at Las Palmeras for the first time ; this event became the landmark of the foundation of this small agricultural colony, where hundreds of Jews who escaped from the persecutions in Eastern Europe, found refuge, liberty, work and dignity.
Translation: Maria Pensavalle]]>