December 24, 2006

Wallenberg Foundation founder receives Polar Star

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The left-hand photo shows International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation founder Baruch Tenembaum receiving the Swedish Royal Order of the Polar Star decoration from Swedish Ambassador Arne Rodin while former Swedish envoy Peter Landelius looks on – the other photo shows Tenembaum chatting with Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo leader Estela Barnes de Carlotto, Santa Fe Governor Jorge Obeid (who arrived from Santa Fe shortly after the award itself) and Rodin.

It might be asked why Sweden took so long to recognize Tenembaum’s work dedicated to honouring the Swedish diplomat who rescuedup to 100,000 Jews from Nazi clutches in wartime Budapest (even snatching them from 9death trains by handing out passports of neutral Sweden) , finally paying for his heroism with his disappearance (and presumably life). After all, the foundation has been up and running since 1997 while the Wallenberg statue has been part of the landscape at Austria and Figueroa Alcorta for some years now.

In fact, this delay is not Sweden’s ”fault” but Tenembaum’s for modestly refusing the award until the ecumenical Father Horacio Moreno finnaly convinced him this year – only to die a few weeks before last Tuesday’s ceremony which included more than one tribute to the warm-hearted priest.

Among those congratulating Tenembaum on his Polar Star (an order created in 1748) were President Stjepan Mesic of Croatia, US Congressman Tom Lantos (Dem-California), whose life was saved by Wallenberg, and Cardinal Renato Martino of the Vatican.

A distinguished Judaic scholar who was kidnapped by the Triple A rightwing terrorist organization in early 1976, Tenembaum has also helped found Colegio Tarbut and pioneered innumerable ecumenical projects among other claims to fame. MS