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The Schmooze

Rabbi Wins Buenos Aires Parliamentary Election in Landslide

In the metropolitan area where Adolf Eichmann once hid, a rabbi is now a member of parliament.

Rabbi Sergio Bergman, representing the center-right PRO Party Buenos Aires’s municipal election, won 45% of the vote in a race featuring 10 candidates, according to the JTA. He garnered more than three times the votes of his runner up, who received 14%.

Bergman, 49, is the rabbi of the traditional Congregacion Israelita Argentina in the Argentinean capital. Argentina is home to Latin America’s largest Jewish community. Bergman is also the founder of Active Memory, a group committed to commemorating the 1994 bombing of AMIA, a large Buenos Aires Jewish community center. Because he is an influential spiritual leader in the city, a Buenos Aires court forbade the title “rabbi” from appearing on the ballot.

His bald head covered with a large, colorful kippa, Bergman told JTA that “I believe that Torah can also be taught in the legislature.” He is a disciple of Rabbi Marshall Meyer, who founded Marshall T. Meyer Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, an affiliate of the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary.

Bergman was one of several Jewish candidates in this year’s municipal elections, two of whom ran unsuccessfully for mayor under the banner of left-wing parties. One of these candidates, Jorge Telerman, was the city’s vice mayor for two years beginning in 2006.

And while this election cycle brought a rabbi into public office, it could not escape a neo-Nazi candidate. Alejandro Biondini, an open anti-Semite, received 0.19 percent of the vote for mayor.

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